Characteristic features of pockmarks on the North Sea Floor and Scotian Shelf


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This paper presents the results of a comparative study of pockmarks and associated features appearing on both sides of the North Atlantic: on the Scotian Shelf off Nova Scotia and in the northern North Sea. Pockmarks are formed in seabed material consisting of soft silty clay. The seismic, sonar and lithologic characteristics of the sediments on the Scotian Shelf are remarkably similar to those found in the northern North Sea. Sediment clouds suspended in the water column immediately over the seabed have previously been observed on side-scan records associated with gas-charged sediments on corresponding shallow-seismic records. These and similar observations strongly suggest that most pockmarks are caused by gas efflux through the seafloor. However, the detailed mechanism of formation and the origin of the gas in the sediments is still unknown.