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Geophysical Monograph Series




Outlines of Southern Ocean geomorphology

Alexander V. Zhivago

Institute of Geography, Academy of Sciences, USSR, Moscow, USSR

The classification scheme of the relief of the Antarctic Ocean and the Geomorphological map on a scale of 1:20,000,000 represent only the first attempt to summarize the geomorphological data which have been collected during recent years by the expeditions on the Ob and the countries which had participated in the IGY.
According to the principles of the classification, the entire variety of the relief forms is divided into the three categories differing in scale and origin: that is, (1) geotectures, (2) morphostructures, and (3) morphosculptures.
In the oceans the geotectures are represented by the expanses of the floor (ocean depressions as a whole) and are separated from the continents by the transition tecture of the continental slope. The shelf zone already belongs to the tecture of the continent.
Morphostructures are located within geotectures and are conditioned by tectonic processes (submarine mountain ranges, trenches, narrow depressions, etc.).
The category of morphosculptures usually includes forms of a smaller scale, often subordinated to morphostructures and conditioned by exogenetic forces (wave influence, deep sea currents, turbidity currents, sea ice, icebergs, etc.). The belt of accumulation plains surrounding the foot of the continental slope of the Antarctic, we also believe to belong to this category. The relief of volcanic origin belongs to a special morphological category spreading over more than half of the Southern Ocean floor to the north of the accumulation plains. In our scheme, volcanic formations occupy an intermediate position, they are genetically close to the morphostructures so far as their origin is connected with the interior forces of the Planet. At the same time the creation of the volcanic relief is essentially the process of accumulation, that is, the process of sculpture character.
Thus, the floor of the Southern Ocean consists of at least three large genetically different areas: (1) abyssal plains of marine accumulation, (2) elevations and ridges with superstructures of volcanic relief forms, (3) expanses of abyssal, mainly also volcanic, relief.
A further accumulation of data on the bathymetry and geological structures of submarine expanses will permit the preparation of maps of a larger scale and legends reflecting the entire variety of forms of the bottom relief. At this stage the present map might prove helpful as a general working scheme for regional geomorphological summarizations, for the solution of sedimentation problems associated with the relief, and perhaps for the coordination of some tectonic problems.

Citation: Zhivago, A. V. (1962), Outlines of Southern Ocean geomorphology, in Antarctic Research: The Matthew Fontaine Maury Memorial Symposium, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 7, edited by H. Wexler, M. J. Rubin, and J. E. Caskey Jr., pp. 74–80, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/GM007p0074.


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