Acoustic basement lies at an average of between 6.0 and 6.5 sec two-way time below sea level in the southern Rockall Trough and northern Porcupine Abyssal Plain. The overlying sedimentary succession reaches maximum thicknesses of at least 4.0 sec, and can be divided by 3 regionally-developed seismic reflecting horizons, which are used as a framework to establish an acoustic stratigraphy for the area by selecting three “type” seismic sections. These reflectors are named, in ascending order, Shackleton, Charcot and Challenger. The area is crossed by E—W basement high structures, the Clare Lineament (which may be an easterly extension of the Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone), that separates the Porcupine Abyssal Plain from the eastern part of southern Rockall Trough. Under the latter, the post-Shackleton acoustic sequence is thickened, as if dammed to the north of the Clare Lineament, whilst a further thickening, above reflector Charcot, occurs along a NE—SW line somewhat farther north into the southern Rockall Trough. This can also be related to shallow-lying acoustic basement features. Pre-Shackleton sediments overlie a very irregular basement topography.
The acoustic characters of the various sediment packages are described and it is speculated that major changes in the sedimentary environments took place across reflectors Shackleton and Challenger, the latter probably establishing the modern bottom current circulation patterns. No ages can be unequivocally assigned to the main reflectors, but previously published data suggest a late Eocene—Oligocene age for Challenger. Possible lavas or sills are identified in the succession between reflectors Shackleton and Charcot.