Overpressure and buoyant effect of underlying sediments are generally used to account for the upward motion or formation of submarine mud volcanoes and mud diapirs. In this study, we process and interpret the gravity anomalies associated with the active mud diapirs off SW Taiwan. Geologically, the mud diapirs are just formed and are still very active, thus we can better understand the initial process of the mud diapirs formation through the gravity analysis. Our results show that the density contrasts of the submarine mud diapirs with respect to the surroundings are generally positive. Because the study area is in a tectonically compressive regime and the gas plume venting from the submarine mud volcanoes is very active, we thus infer that mechanically the mud diapirs off SW Taiwan have been formed mainly due to the tectonic compression on the underlying sediments of high pore-fluid pressure, instead of the buoyancy of the buried sediments. The overpressured sediments and fluid are compressed and pushed upwards to pierce the overlying sediments and form the more compacted mud diapirs. The relatively denser material of the mud diapirs probably constrains the flowing courses of the submarine canyons off SW Taiwan, especially for the upper reaches of the Kaoping and Fangliao submarine canyons.
- Diapir and diapirism
- Gravity anomalies and Earth structure