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Space-time evolution of a large field of pockmarks in the Bay of Concarneau (NW Brittany)

TitreSpace-time evolution of a large field of pockmarks in the Bay of Concarneau (NW Brittany)
Type de publicationJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuteursBaltzer, A, Reynaud, M, Ehrhold, A, Fournier, J, Cordier, C, Clouet, H
JournalBulletin de la Société Géologique de France

About a decade ago, a large field of pockmarks, covering an overall area of 36 km2 was discovered in water depths of <30m in the central part of the Bay of Concarneau (Southern Brittany, France). This field, composed of features from 5m to 35m in diameter and <1m in depth, is characterized by unusual high densities of pockmarks, up to 5840 per square kilometre. Geophysical data correlated with sedimentary samples acquired in 2005 and 2009 show that pockmarks and their immediate surroundings are associated with dense tubes benches cover, built by a filter-feeding amphipod: Haploops nirae, forming original benthic communities. Two complementary surveys were carried out in April 2011 (Pock and Ploops) and April 2014 (Pock and Tide), on the Oceanographic Vedette (O/V) Haliotis (Ifremer/Genavir), to map the limit of the pockmarks and Haploops fields with the maximum accuracy. The link between the presence of the Haploops nirae communities and the occurrence of pockmarks /gas was then established and the proposed hypothesis was that tidal cycles may provide a good candidate for a short-term (monthly) triggering mechanism of fluid expulsion (Baltzer A, Ehrohold A, Rigolet C, Souron A, Cordier C, Clouet H. 2014. Geophysical exploration of an active pockmark field in the Bay of Concarneau, southern Brittany, and implications for resident suspension feeders. Geo-Marine Letters, 34, 215–230). Due to the high-level precision (50 cm) of the positioning system (Magellan Aquarius Ixsea Hydrins) coupled with the RTK attitude system, these new bathymetric and imagery maps together with the sub-bottom Chirp profiles, allow us to compare the data sets from April 2011 and April 2014. The superimposition of the two data sets shows that the distribution of the pockmarks remains similar between these 2 dates (i.e. for 3 years), for the group of large, widely scattered pockmarks, which are deeply rooted in the Holocene palaeo-valley infills and for the group of pockmarks identified as the trawl-scour pockmarks, initiated by trawling action. Most of the pockmarks present very recent shapes without any infilling but sonar imagery reveals that some of them have been covered by a thin muddy layer, thereby reflecting, at least, a temporary cessation of expulsion or a different activity. Chirp profiles indicate some acoustic flares above the pockmarks, revealing gas/fluid expulsion. Different gas clues within the sedimentary column, such as acoustic turbidity, enhanced gas reflectors (EGR), chimneys pipes, occur at exactly the same places on the chirp seismic profiles from 2011 and 2014. Therefore, contrary to most examples described in the  literature, this pockmarks field is still active.