Deep-Sea Contourites: Sediments and Cycles

Dorrik Stow, Zeinab Smillie, Jiawei Pan, Ibimina Pepple Esentia

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Contourites are one of the three principal types of sediment that cover the deep seafloor. They are the result of erosion, transport and deposition by deep ocean bottom currents, which, over millions of years, can construct giant sediment drifts over 1000 m in thickness. These hold a permanent record of past changes in ocean environment and climate. Cyclic variation in the structural, textural, and compositional properties of contourites are expressed as a series of 0.5–5 m thick bi-gradational sequences, each of which takes several millennia of continuous deposition by slow to medium velocity currents. Stronger bottom currents winnow and erode the seafloor, resulting in broad sand sheets.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Ocean Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationEarth Systems and Environmental Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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