Crystal structure of the northwestern Vizcaino block and Gorda Escarpment, offshore northern California, and implications for postsubduction deformation of a paleoaccretionary margin Public Deposited

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  • The Vizcaino block is an anomalously shallow region of the western U.S continental margin located southwest of the Mendocino triple junction. It originated as part of the accretionary prism of the North America plate and was transferred to the Pacific plate in the Miocene as the Pacific-North America plate boundary migrated ~130 km eastward, forming the Gorda Escarpment at its northern boundary. We present hybrid crustal models for the northwestern part of the Vizcaino block derived from marine seismic and gravity data. The velocity and density structure of the northwestern Vizcaino block are compatible with paleoaccretionary complex material similar to San Simeon/Patton terrane overlying oceanic crust or a mafic layer. The most significant result of our modeling is an abrupt increase in Moho dip from ~5° to ~20-30° beneath the western edge of the Oconostota ridge along the northwestern margin of the Vizcaino block. This Moho dip is steeper than observed anywhere along the Cascadua subduction zone, indicating postsubduction deformation. We suggest that the paleotrench was deformed by compression, which reactivated preexisting thrust faults in the upper crust and thickened the crust within this apparent weak zone. At least part of the deformation predates late Pliocene Pacific-North America plate convergence and may result mainly from north-south compression between the Pacific-Juan de Fuca plates across the Mendocino transform fault. North-south compression continues today and may dynamically support the uplifted northern margin of the Vizcaino block, although the primary locus of deformation shifted to the relatively weak Gorda plate sometime prior to 3 Ma.
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  • Leitner, B., A. Trehu, and N. Godfrey (1998), Crustal structure of the northwestern Vizcaino block and Gorda Escarpment, offshore northern California, and implications for postsubduction deformation of a paleoaccretionary margin, J. Geophys. Res., 103(B10), 23795-23812.
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  • Vol. 103 No. B10 (1998)
  • Journal of Geophysical Research
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