Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Degree Level





Christopher Liner

Committee Member

Thomas McGilvery

Second Committee Member

John Shaw


Deepwater, Interpretation, Mass Transport Deposits, New Zealand, Seismic, Taranaki Basin


A series of Plio-Pleistocene mass transport deposits (MTD) have been identified in the deepwater Taranaki Basin, in New Zealand, using the Romney 3D seismic survey, which covers an area of approximately 2000 km2. One of these MTDs has been chosen for description and interpretation based on high confidence mapping of its boundary surfaces. The deposit exhibits an array of interesting features similar to those documented by researchers elsewhere plus a unique basal feature unlike those previously observed. The basal shear surface exhibits erosional features such as grooves, “monkey fingers”, and glide tracks. Internally, the MTD is typically characterized by low impedance, chaotic, semi-transparent reflectors surrounding isolated coherent packages of seismic facies interpreted as intact blocks rafted within the mass transport complex. Distally, the deposit presents outrunner blocks and pressure ridges.

The new element described in this work consists of a composite feature that includes a protruding obstacle (“shield block”) on the paleo-seafloor that acted as a barrier to subsequent flows as they advanced downslope. These blocks disrupt the incoming flow and result in elongate, downflow negative features (“erosional shadow scours”), which are then infilled by the mass transport deposit, and are preserved as elongate isochore thicks.

Kinematic evidence provided by various structures suggests that the MTD flow direction was SE-NW toward bathyal depths. The features presented and the absence of extensional headwall structures, such as local arcuate glide planes and rotated slide blocks, suggest that this part of the deposit belongs to the translational to distal domain of the MTD, and its source area is expected to be somewhere toward the SE in a paleo continental slope.