Seismic stratigraphy and deep-water sedimentary evolution of the southern Mozambique margin: Central Terrace and Mozambique Fracture Zone

Ya Gao, Dorrik Stow, Yong Tang*, Xinong Xie, David J. W. Piper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Based upon new seismic reflection data, this study reveals the development of a complex sedimentary system on the lower-slope terrace off Maputo on the southern Mozambique margin. The deep-water sedimentary system clearly shows the interaction of downslope and alongslope processes. Downslope features include: a pronounced canyon, slope creep, submarine slides, and multi-stage mass-transport deposits. Alongslope features include: contourite drifts and sediment waves, erosional moats, valleys, erosive surfaces and a distinctive contourite terrace. We show an evolution through time as follows: (1) restricted marine sedimentation during the Early Cretaceous after the initial break-up, with slope progradational clinoforms and hemipelagite drape developed; (2) open marine sedimentation characterized by the onset of alongslope sedimentary processes during the Late Cretaceous and development of a contourite depositional system; (3) downslope gravity processes dominated sedimentation during the Paleocene-Eocene, including development of a canyon and submarine fan; and (4) an alongslope contourite depositional system was re-established on the lower slope in the Middle Miocene, while turbidites (from a northern source) covered the Mozambique Basin. The Mozambique Fracture Zone marks a distinct and steep slope seaward of the contourite terrace, and has significantly influenced both contourite and turbidite deposition. Our study provides new insights into the onset and evolution of bottom current control on margin sedimentation, the interaction of downslope and alongslope processes and how these processes have jointly sculpted this part of the southern Mozambique margin.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106187
JournalMarine Geology
Early online date27 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Contourite Depositional System
  • Downslope-Alongslope deposition
  • Mozambique Fracture Zone
  • Southern Mozambique margin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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