Brazilian Journal of Oceanography
On-line version ISSN 1982-436X
MAHIQUES, Michel Michaelovitch de et al. The Southern Brazilian shelf: general characteristics, quaternary evolution and sediment distribution. Braz. j. oceanogr. [online]. 2010, vol.58, n.spe2, pp. 25-34. ISSN 1982-436X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-87592010000600004.
Extending from latitude 34ºS to 22ºS the Southern Brazilian shelf constitutes the only part of the Brazilian shelf with a subtropical to temperate environment. The studies on the different geological aspects of the area began in the 1960's and have recently been reassessed after studies related to the determination of the Economic Exclusive Zone. In terms of morphology, the Southern Brazilian shelf may be divided into three sectors, the São Paulo Bight, the Florianópolis-Mostardas Sector and the Rio Grande Cone, characterized by conspicuous differences in terms of geological determining factors, bathymetry, declivities and the presence of canyons and channels. Despite the existence of hundreds of radiocarbon datings the sea level changes curve of southern Brazil during the Last Glacial Cycle is still a matter of debate. A recent controversy on the Middle and late Holocene sea level changes curve raised the question of the amplitude of the oscillations which occurred in the period. Also, a few but relatively consistent radiocarbon datings suggest the occurrence of a high sea level during Isotope Stage 3. In terms of sedimentary cover the Southern Brazilian shelf exhibits a very strong hydrodynamic control, both latitudinal and bathymetrical. The sector southward from 25ºS is characterized by the influence of the plume of water carrying sediments originating from the Río de La Plata. Actually its presence is conspicuous up to 28ºS, with the area between this latitude and 25ºS constituting a transitional zone. In terms of bathymetry the outer shelf is marked by the "floor-polisher" effect of the Brazil Current, which is responsible for the maintenance of a relict facies in areas deeper than 100 meters.
Keywords : Continental shelf; Sedimentation; Sea level changes; Last glacial cycle.