Record of Late Neogene seismites in turbidite deposits of the Tafna Basin (NW Algeria)

Mostapha Benzina, Małgorzata Pisarska-Jamroży, Hakim Hebib


The wide variety of soft-sediment deformation structures (SSDS) developed within deposits of the same age may hinder the interpretation of their origin. Some types of SSDS may appear similar though have different trigger mechanisms, while others may result from a specific mechanism. Furthermore, the development of particular SSDS may be influenced by several synchronous or semi-synchronous factors. This study deals with the recognition of SSDS trigger mechanisms with respect to lithological and deformational features of the deposits concerned. Turbidite deposits of late Neogene age in the Hadjret El Gat area (Tafna Basin) contain different types of SSDS associated with (1) slope processes (e.g., slump folds) and induced overburden pressure, coupled with broken beds and overloading structures, and (2) liquefaction and fluidisation phenomena, leading to the development of load structures, ball-and-pillow structures, water-escape structures and syndepositional faults. These two mechanisms of SSDS formation in the study area are thought to result from seismically-induced triggers. Recognition of a vertically-repeated, sandwich-like arrangement of deformed and undeformed layers along with the SSDS features ("trapped" within beds) suggests that these internally-deformed beds are seismites, the first recognized in the Tafna Basin of NW Algeria. Large earthquakes may trigger seismic waves energetic enough to deform strata and induce the development of SSDS. This hypothesis is supported here by tectonic evidence, given deposition of the Tafna Basin strata in the convergence zone between Africa and Eurasia, active since the late Neogene.


soft-sediment deformation structures; liquefaction; seismites; mass flows; turbidite; tectonic activity; Tafna Basin; Neogene; Miocene

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