- Contiential margins on plate boundaries are complex systems with morphologies and characteristics dictated by the interplay of sediment deposition and erosion, tectonic faulting, folding, and strong ground motion generating mass wasting events. With ever increasing advances in high-resolution remote sensing techniques these systems are increasingly becoming illuminated.
A ~120 km offshore portion of the northern San Andreas Fault (SAF) between Point Arena and Point Delgada was mapped using closely spaced seismic-reflection profiles, high-resolution multibeam bathymetry and marine magnetics data. This new dataset documents SAF location and continuity, associated tectonic geomorphology, shallow stratigraphy and deformation. Variable deformation patterns in the generally narrow (~1-km-wide) fault zone are largely associated with fault trend, and with transtensional and transpressional fault bends.
We divide this unique transtensional portion of the offshore SAF into six sections along and adjacent to the SAF based on fault trend, deformation styles, seismic stratigraphy, and seafloor bathymetry. This southern region of the SAF includes a 10-km-long zone characterized by two active, parallel fault strands in which the SAF is evolving into a straighter orientation via migrating fault releasing and restraining bends. The SAF in the northern region of the survey area passes through two acute fault bends (~9° (right), and ~8° (left)), resulting in both an asymmetric “Lazy Z” sedimentary basin (“Noyo Basin”) and an uplifted rocky shoal (“Tolo Bank”). Noyo Basin subsidence and tilt rates, as well as SAF lateral slip rates, were determined based on seismic-stratigraphic sequences and unconformities correlated with the previous 4 major Quaternary sea-level lowstands. Progressively steeper erosional surfaces record basin tilting of ~0.6° per 100,000 years. Migration of the basin depocenter indicates a lateral slip rate on the San Andreas Fault of 10 to 19 mm/yr for the past 350,000 years.
Data collected west of the SAF on the south flank of Cape Mendocino rule out the previously postulated presence of an offshore fault strand that connects the SAF with the Mendocino Triple Junction. Instead, the SAF passes on land at Point Delgada, where the SAF plate boundary transitions to the Kings Range thrust.
Utilizing new high resolution multibeam bathymetric data, chirp sub-bottom and multichannel seismic reflection profiles, we identify and describe submarine channels, submarine landslides, and three “new” erosional features on the toe of the Cascadia accretionary wedge near Willapa Canyon, offshore Washington, USA. Bathymetric data was compiled from the Cascadia Open-Access Seismic Transects (COAST) cruise and from the site survey cruise for the Cascadia Initiative. This new high-resolution dataset has illuminated geomorphic features that suggest this section of the margin underwent radical erosion in the latest-Pleistocene.
Three “new” and peculiar features were imaged that superficially resemble slope failures of the frontal thrust, but are distinguished from such failures by 1) incision of the crest of the frontal thrust and anticlinal ridge, and piggyback basin; 2) they have floors below the level of the abyssal plain, and have excavated deeply into the frontal anticline 3) The features are connected to the main Willapa Channel by inactive paleo channels. The features were likely formed during the latest Pleistocene based on post event deposition, cross-cutting by the modern Juan de Fuca and Willapa Channel levees, and post- event slip on the frontal thrust of the Cascadia accretionary prism. Based on morphology, dissimilarity with other submarine features on the Cascadia and other margins, and available age constraints, we infer that these features were most likely formed by massive turbidity currents associated with the glacial lake outpourings in the Pacific Northwest known as the Missoula floods.