Contourites are sediments deposited or substantially reworked by bottom currents. The study of contourites is crucial for several fields of fundamental and applied research: paleoclimatology and paleo-oceanography, since these fairly continuous and relatively high-resolution sediments hold the key for priceless information on the variability in circulation patter, current velocity, oceanographic history and basin interconnectivity; hydrocarbon exploration, since accumulation of source rocks may be favored by weak bottom currents, whereas "clean" deep-sea sands may be formed by robust flows; and slope stability, since low-permeability fine-grained contourites facilitate the formation of overpressurized gliding planes when fresh contourites with a high pore-water content becomes rapidly loaded, or when their rigid biosiliceous microfabric collapses due to diagenetic conditions. Despite its significance, this group of sediments is poorly known by the majority of non-specialists. Notwithstanding the growing interest and the intensified research in contourites, a textbook that might also serve as a reference book on contourites was missing until now. This book addresses all aspects of the knowledge in the field of contourites and provides an authoritative and comprehensive coverage of the subject. It also can serve as a standard reference work for non-specialists, and in particular postgraduate students, university teachers and lecturers, researchers and professionals who are seeking an authoritative source of information about contourites.

Key Features

* reviews both theoretical topics and case histories * provides practical advice on multidisciplinary research techniques * provides also nonspecialist users with an intuitively-accessible, cross-referenced, and comprehensive coverage of the knowledge in the field. * provides a helpful tool for research in the preparation of classroom lectures


oil companies, academic libraries servicing earth and environmental sciences departments, Government and public libraries.

Table of Contents

Part 1. Contourite Research 1. Introduction 2. Personal reminiscences on the history of contourites 3. Methods for contourite research
Part 2. Bottom currents 4. Abyssal and contour currents 5. Deep-water bottom currents and their deposits 6. Dynamics of the bottom boundary layer
Part 3. Processes 7. Sediment entrainment 8. Size sorting during transport and deposition of fine sediments: sortable silt and flow speed 9. The nature of contourite deposition
Part 4. Sediments 10. Traction structures in contourites 11. Bioturbation and biogenic sedimentary structures in contourites 12. Some aspets of diagenesis in contourites 13. Contourite facies and the facies model
Part 5. Morphology, geometry and palaeoceanographic reconstructions 14. Contourite drifts: nature, evolution and controls 15. Sediment waves and bedforms 16. Seismic expression of contourite depositional systems 17. Identification of ancient contourites: problems and paleoceanographic signifance
Part 6. Domains 18. Abyssal plain contourites 19. Continental slope contourites 20. Shallow water contourites 21. Mixed turbidite-contourite systems 22. High latituted contourites
Part 7. Importance 23. Economic relevance of contourites 24. Paleoceanographic significance of contourite drifts 25. The significance of contourites for submarine slope stability


No. of pages:
© 2009
Elsevier Science
eBook ISBN:
Print ISBN:

About the editors

M. Rebesco

Affiliations and Expertise

Istituto Nazionale di Oceanografia e di Geofisica, Sgonico, Italy

A. Camerlenghi

Affiliations and Expertise

ICREA, Istitució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats c/o GRC Geociències Marines Universitat de Barcelona, Spain