Overpressure and Fluid Flow in the New Jersey Continental Slope: Implications for Slope Failure and Cold Seeps

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Science  14 Jul 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5477, pp. 288-291
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5477.288

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Miocene through Pleistocene sediments on the New Jersey continental slope (Ocean Drilling Program Site 1073) are undercompacted (porosity between 40 and 65%) to 640 meters below the sea floor, and this is interpreted to record fluid pressures that reach 95% of the lithostatic stress. A two-dimensional model, where rapid Pleistocene sedimentation loads permeable sandy silt of Miocene age, successfully predicts the observed pressures. The model describes how lateral pressure equilibration in permeable beds produces fluid pressures that approach the lithostatic stress where overburden is thin. This transfer of pressure may cause slope failure and drive cold seeps on passive margins around the world.

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