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The Speculobe Project


Three active small channel and lobe systems have been described from the Gulf of Cadiz using low resolution sidescan sonars (Habgood et al, 2003).

Left: Perspective view of the SeaMap acoustic imagery draped over bathymetry and showing the development of a sand lobe in a local depression.

During Phase 1 of the project, one of these sand lobes was mapped with accurately navigated, deep-towed equipment to the highest, meter-scale, resolution.

Deep-towed survey lines

The following products are available to potential sponsors:

1. Background setting, including complete 10kHz sidescan mosaic
2. High resolution sidescan mosaic (100 kHz)
3. High resolution deep towed seismic profiles
4. Bathymetry (not swath) at 1m interval
5. Isopach map at 2m interval
6. Interpretation map
7. Lobe depositional sequence map
8. 3D backscattering draped over bathymetry


During Phase 2 we undertook a coring programme of the lobe and feeder system, so that the detailed depositional architecture of a turbidite deposit emplaced in the last 20 ka can be assessed.

Left: Location of the planned piston core sites on the active sand lobe in the Gulf of Cadiz. Interpretation from 12 kHz SeaMap sidescan sonar data.

The main goals of the study are:

to evaluate sand quality throughout the whole lobe system (from source to deposition);
to characterise sedimentary facies composing various elements of the lobe system;
to identify the nature and behaviour of density flows responsible for sand transport and deposition within the lobe system and to investigate the nature of flows beyond the lobe.

Project timeframe and costs

Phase 2 was completed in late 2005. Full cost of both phases to new sponsors is £10,000 (GBP). Existing partners are: Shell, ConocoPhilips and ExxonMobil.


Habgood, E.L., Kenyon, N.H., Akhmetzhanov, A., Weaver, P.P.E., Masson, D.G., Gardner, J., and Mulder, T. 2003. Deep-water sediment wave fields, contourite sand channels and channel mouth sand lobes in the Gulf of Cadiz, NE Atlantic. Sedimentology, 50, 483-510.

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© UK-TAPS Group
November 2005