Seismic stratigraphy and structure of Prydz Bay, Antarctica: Implications from Leg 119 drilling

By: , and 



Prydz Bay is situated on the MacRobertson Land coast of East Antarctica at the seaward end of a 700-km-long transverse rift zone, the Lambert Rift. New and reprocessed seismic reflection data are combined with drilling results from five Leg 119 sites across Prydz Bay to study the regional stratigraphy and structure of the continental shelf and upper slope.

Severe seismic multiples hamper interpretations, yet seven acoustic units separated by unconformities can be distinguished regionally. Only four units (sedimentary) have been drilled. More than 5 km of well- to poorly-stratified units beneath the inner shelf fill the northeast-trending Prydz Bay basin, which is related to, but separated from, the Lambert Graben. Basinal units overlie metamorphic basement (unit PS.5) and are continental nonmarine deposits of possible late Paleozoic to early Mesozoic age (unit PS.4, Site 740) and Early Cretaceous and younger(?) age (unit PS.2B, Site 741). Seaward, the basin is flanked by a buried and intruded(?) basement ridge (units PS.5 and PS.6). Continuous to distorted reflections cover the ridge and dip seaward in a prograding unit (unit PS.2A) beneath the outer shelf. Glaciomarine rocks of late Eocene to early Oligocene age comprise the innermost part of the unit PS.2A (Sites 742 and 739) and Holocene glacial rocks the outermost (Site 743); ages of intermediate parts of the unit are unknown. A flatlying unit of chaotic to continuous reflectors directly beneath the seafloor covers most of the northeast shelf (unit PS. 1, Sites 740, 741, 742, and 739), and is composed of compacted glacial diamictites of late Miocene and younger age.

We suspect that significant rifting and glacial events have caused acoustic disconformities beneath Prydz Bay. The principal rifting events began with earliest rifting of Gondwana in late Paleozoic time (units PS.5 to PS.4) and culminated with continental breakup in Early Cretaceous time (units PS.4 to PS.2B). The advent of East Antarctic glaciation in late Eocene to early Oligocene time (units PS.2B to PS.2A) and the grounding of ice sheets across the shelf in midand late-Cenozoic times (unit PS.l to underlying units) created the principal glacial disconformities. The seaward-prograding glacial sequences beneath the outermost shelf record numerous post-early Oligocene glacial events and likely sea-level changes that can only be partially mapped with existing seismic and drilling data.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Seismic stratigraphy and structure of Prydz Bay, Antarctica: Implications from Leg 119 drilling
DOI 10.2973/
Volume 119
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher Texas A&M University, Ocean Drilling Program
Contributing office(s) Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 21 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Proceedings of the Ocean Drilling Program, Scientific Results
First page 5
Last page 25
Other Geospatial Prydz Bay, Antarctica
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