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ABSTRACT

A piston core (RC16-57) raised from the northwestern flank of the Ceará Rise contained several turbidites up to 62 cm thick with grain sizes ranging from clay to coarse sand. These turbidites were similar in composition to terrigenous turbidites found throughout the Amazon Cone, continental rise and abyssal plains of the western Equatorial Atlantic. The core site (RC16-57) on the Ceará Rise, however, was 156 m above the level of the adjacent Amazon Cone (the source of the turbidites). Thus the turbidity currents which deposited these beds apparently had to flow upslope for 17 km to reach the core site. Sub-bottom reflectors observed on a 3.5 kHz echogram that extended from the Amazon Cone upslope past the core site suggested that these and deeper turbidites extended from the cone up the rise flank to distances of up to 40 km from the cone/rise boundary and to elevations up to 400 m above the level of the cone at the base of the rise. An equally plausible explanation could be that the turbidity currents that deposited these sediments were in excess of 400 m in thickness and thus would not require uphill flow to reach their observed location on the rise flank. The absence of terrigenous turbidites from the bases of topographic knolls on the continental rise and abyssal plains throughout the western Equatorial Atlantic indicated, however, that turbidity currents were normally less than 100 m thick and hence would seem to rule out this explanation. The average gradient of the rise flank in this region was about 1 : 1000 (\sim 0.5°).