New Evidence on the Relief of the Southern Underwater Slope in the South Baikal Basin
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A high-resolution bathymetric survey of the entire underwater slope in South Baikal was carried out for the first time by means of the multibeam echosounder. New elements were revealed in the underwater relief of the southern slope of the basin from the Kultuchnaya river to the Mysovka river, and a relevant regionalization was carried out into three areas according to the presence of ancient landforms and the intensity of the processes of their reworking, with the boundaries along the delta-front and the river fan of the Utulik and Pereemnaya. We reconstructed the formation process of the modern relief of this area of the underwater slope and determined a dominant role of the underwater-erosion processes in the formation of the modern relief, with the tectonic movements served as the “trigger” for them. The study revealed a direct correlation between the reworking of the ancient geomorphological surfaces and the occurrence of separate large underwater elevations or group ridges (remnants), canyons and linear depressions. It is determined that the pivotal role in the appearance of the modern relief of the underwater slope in the second area of extensive plano-convex (in section) and fan-shaped (in plan) delta-fronts of large rivers and debris fans enveloping the remnants. The existence of a steep underwater slope from the mouth of the Pereemnaya to the mouth of the Bol’shaya Tel’naya and of two large benches, and also the proximity of the maximum depths of the southern basin at the foot of this slope are explained by a more intense step-like lowering of this part of the lake when compared with the western part of the basin. This also accounts for the absence of large remnants in this part of the slope. The area of occurrence of lacustrine-fluvial and lacustrine-delta deposits of the Tankhoi paleobasin within the southern basin of Baikal is reconstructed. Four new hydrate-bearing structures associated with these deposits and morphologically pronounced in the vertex parts of the remnants were discovered. The morphological exploration indicators of the presence of new accumulations of gas hydrates on the underwater slopes of Baikal have been expanded.
KeywordsBaikal underwater relief delta-front mapping paleoreconstruction gas hydrates
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