Perez-Garcia, Carolina, Berndt, Christian, Klaeschen, Dirk, Mienert, Jürgen, Haffert, Laura, Depreiter, Davy and Haeckel, Matthias
Linked halokinesis and mud volcanism at the Mercator mud volcano, Gulf of Cadiz
Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, (B5), . (doi:10.1029/2010JB008061).
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Mud volcanoes are seafloor expressions of focused fluid flow that are common in compressional tectonic settings. New high-resolution 3-D seismic data from the Mercator mud volcano (MMV) and an adjacent buried mud volcano (BMV) image the internal structure of the top 800 m of sediment at both mud volcanoes, revealing that both are linked and have been active episodically. The total volumes of extruded mud range between 0.15 and 0.35 km3 and 0.02–0.05 km3 for the MMV and the BMV, respectively. The pore water composition of surface sediment samples suggests that halokinesis has played an important role in the evolution of the mud volcanoes. We propose that erosion of the top of the Vernadsky Ridge that underlies the mud volcanoes activated salt movement, triggering deep migration of fluids, dissolution of salt, and sediment liquefaction and mobilization since the end of the Pliocene. Since beginning of mud volcanism in this area, the mud volcanoes erupted four times while there was only one reactivation of salt tectonics. This implies that there are other mechanisms that trigger mud eruptions. The stratigraphic relationship of mudflows from the MMV and BMV indicates that the BMV was triggered by the MMV eruptions. This may either be caused by loading-induced hydrofracturing within the BMV or due to a common feeder system for both mud volcanoes. This study shows that the mud volcanoes in the El Arraiche mud volcano field are long-lived features that erupt with intervals of several tens of thousands of years.
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