Evolution of the Gorda Escarpment, San Andreas fault and Mendocino triple junction from multichannel seismic data collected across the northern Vizcaino block, offshore northern California Public Deposited

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  • The Gorda Escarpment is a north facing scarp immediately south of the Mendocino transform fault (the Gorda/Juan de Fuca-Pacific plate boundary) between 126°W and the Mendocino triple junction. It elevates the seafloor at the northern edge of the Vizcaino block, part of the Pacific plate, ~1.5 km above the seafloor of the Gorda/Juan de Fuca plate to the north. Stratigraphy interpreted from multichannel seismic data across and close to the Gorda Escarpment suggests that the escarpment is a relatively recent pop-up feature caused by north-south compression across the plate boundary. Close to 126°W, the Vizcaino block acoustic basement shallows and is overlain by sediments that thin north toward the Gorda Escarpment. These sediments are tilted south and truncated at the seafloor. By contrast, in a localized region at the eastern end of the Gorda Escarpment, close to the Mendocino triple junction, the top of acoustic basement dips north and is overlain by a 2-km-thick wedge of pre-11 Ma sedimentary rocks that thickens north, toward the Gorda Escarpment. This wedge of sediments is restricted to the northeast corner of the Vizcaino block. Unless the wedge of sediments was a preexisting feature on the Vizcaino block before it was transferred from the North American to the Pacific plate, the strong spatial correlation between the sedimentary wedge and the triple junction suggests the entire Vizcaino block, with the San Andreas at its eastern boundary, has been part of the Pacific plate since significantly before 11 Ma.
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  • Godfrey, N., A. Meltzer, S. Klemperer, A. Tréhu, B. Leitner, S. Clarke Jr., and A. Ondrus (1998), Evolution of the Gorda Escarpment, San Andreas fault and Mendocino triple junction from multichannel seismic data collected across the northern Vizcaino block, offshore northern California, J. Geophys. Res., 103(B10), 23813-23825.
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