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  • Articles  (11)
  • 2015-2019  (6)
  • 2010-2014  (5)
  • 1
    Publication Date: 2016-12-29
    Description: Earthquake data from two short-period ocean-bottom seismometer (OBS) networks deployed for over a year on the continental slope off New York and southern New England were used to evaluate seismicity and ground motions along the continental margin. Our OBS networks located only one earthquake of M c ~1.5 near the shelf edge during six months of recording, suggesting that seismic activity ( M Lg 〉3.0) of the margin as far as 150–200 km offshore is probably successfully monitored by land stations without the need for OBS deployments. The spectral acceleration from two local earthquakes recorded by the OBS was found to be generally similar to the acceleration from these earthquakes recorded at several seismic stations on land and to hybrid empirical acceleration relationships for eastern North America. Therefore, the seismic attenuation used for eastern North America can be extended in this region at least to the continental slope. However, additional offshore studies are needed to verify these preliminary conclusions.
    Print ISSN: 0895-0695
    Electronic ISSN: 1938-2057
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 2
    Publication Date: 2016-06-30
    Description: We explore the effects of earthquake frequency and sedimentation rate on submarine slope stability by extracting correlations between morphological and geological parameters in 10 continental margins. Slope stability increases with increasing frequency of earthquakes and decreasing sedimentation rate. This increase in stability is nonlinear (power law with b 〈 0.5), accelerating with decreasing interseismic sediment accumulation. The correlation is interpreted as evidence for sediment densification and associated shear strength gain induced by repeated seismic shaking. Outliers to this correlation likely identify margins where tectonic activity leads to relatively rapid oversteepening of the slope.
    Print ISSN: 0091-7613
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-2682
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 3
    Publication Date: 2017-04-01
    Description: Extraordinary marine inundation scattered clasts southward on the island of Anegada, 120 km south of the Puerto Rico Trench, sometime between 1200 and 1480 calibrated years (cal yr) CE. Many of these clasts were likely derived from a fringing reef and from the sandy flat that separates the reef from the island’s north shore. The scattered clasts include no fewer than 200 coral boulders, mapped herein for the first time and mainly found hundreds of meters inland. Many of these are complete colonies of the brain coral Diploria strigosa . Other coral species represented include Orbicella (formerly Montastraea ) annularis , Porites astreoides , and Acropora palmata . Associated bioclastic carbonate sand locally contains articulated cobble-size valves of the lucine Codakia orbicularis and entire conch shells of Strombus gigas , mollusks that still inhabit the sandy shallows between the island’s north shore and a fringing reef beyond. Imbricated limestone slabs are clustered near some of the coral boulders. In addition, fields of scattered limestone boulders and cobbles near sea level extend mainly southward from limestone sources as much as 1 km inland. Radiocarbon ages have been obtained from 27 coral clasts, 8 lucine valves, and 3 conch shells. All these additional ages predate 1500 cal yr CE, all but 2 are in the range 1000–1500 cal yr CE, and 16 of 22 brain coral ages cluster in the range 1200–1480 cal yr CE. The event marked by these coral and mollusk clasts likely occurred in the last centuries before Columbus (before 1492 CE). The pre-Columbian deposits surpass Anegada’s previously reported evidence for extreme waves in post-Columbian time. The coarsest of the modern storm deposits consist of coral rubble that lines the north shore and sandy fans on the south shore; neither of these storm deposits extends more than 50 m inland. More extensive overwash, perhaps by the 1755 Lisbon tsunami, is marked primarily by a sheet of sand and shells found mainly below sea level beneath the floors of modern salt ponds. This sheet extends more than 1 km southward from the north shore and dates to the interval 1650–1800 cal yr CE. Unlike the pre-Columbian deposits, it lacks coarse clasts from the reef or reef flat; its shell assemblage is instead dominated by cerithid gastropods that were merely stirred up from a marine pond in the island’s interior. In their inland extent and clustered pre-Columbian ages, the coral clasts and associated deposits suggest extreme waves unrivaled in recent millennia at Anegada. Bioclastic sand coats limestone 4 m above sea level in areas 0.7 and 1.3 km from the north shore. A coral boulder of nearly 1 m 3 is 3 km from the north shore by way of an unvegetated path near sea level. As currently understood, the extreme flooding evidenced by these and other clasts represents either an extraordinary storm or a tsunami of nearby origin. The storm would need to have produced tsunami-like bores similar to those of 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Normal faults and a thrust fault provide nearby tsunami sources along the eastern Puerto Rico Trench.
    Electronic ISSN: 1553-040X
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 4
    Publication Date: 2018-05-23
    Description: The Queen Charlotte Fault defines the Pacific–North America transform plate boundary in western Canada and southeastern Alaska for c. 900 km. The entire length of the fault is submerged along a continental margin dominated by Quaternary glacial processes, yet the geomorphology along the margin has never been systematically examined due to the absence of high-resolution seafloor mapping data. Hence the geological processes that influence the distribution, character and timing of mass transport events and their associated hazards remain poorly understood. Here we develop a classification of the first-order shape of the continental shelf, slope and rise to examine potential relationships between form and process dominance. We found that the margin can be split into six geomorphic groups that vary smoothly from north to south between two basic end-members. The northernmost group (west of Chichagof Island, Alaska) is characterized by concave-upwards slope profiles, gentle slope gradients (〈6°) and relatively low along-strike variance, all features characteristic of sediment-dominated siliciclastic margins. Dendritic submarine canyon/channel networks and retrogressive failure complexes along relatively gentle slope gradients are observed throughout the region, suggesting that high rates of Quaternary sediment delivery and accumulation played a fundamental part in mass transport processes. Individual failures range in area from 0.02 to 70 km 2 and display scarp heights between 10 and 250 m. Transpression along the Queen Charlotte Fault increases southwards and the slope physiography is thus progressively more influenced by regional-scale tectonic deformation. The southernmost group (west of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia) defines the tectonically dominated end-member: the continental slope is characterized by steep gradients (〉20°) along the flanks of broad, margin-parallel ridges and valleys. Mass transport features in the tectonically dominated areas are mostly observed along steep escarpments and the larger slides (up to 10 km 2 ) appear to be failures of consolidated material along the flanks of tectonic features. Overall, these observations highlight the role of first-order margin physiography on the distribution and type of submarine landslides expected to occur in particular morphological settings. The sediment-dominated end-member allows for the accumulation of under-consolidated Quaternary sediments and shows larger, more frequent slides; the rugged physiography of the tectonically dominated end-member leads to sediment bypass and the collapse of uplifted tectonic features. The maximum and average dimensions of slides are an order of magnitude smaller than those of slides observed along other (passive) glaciated margins. We propose that the general patterns observed in slide distribution are caused by the interplay between tectonic activity (long- and short-term) and sediment delivery. The recurrence (〈100 years) of M 〉 7 earthquakes along the Queen Charlotte Fault may generate small, but frequent, failures of under-consolidated Quaternary sediments within the sediment-dominated regions. By contrast, the tectonically dominated regions are characterized by the bypass of Quaternary sediments to the continental rise and the less frequent collapse of steep, uplifted and consolidated sediments.
    Print ISSN: 0305-8719
    Electronic ISSN: 2041-4927
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 5
    Publication Date: 2010-07-27
    Print ISSN: 0096-3941
    Electronic ISSN: 2324-9250
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 6
    Publication Date: 2018
    Description: 〈p〉The Queen Charlotte Fault defines the Pacific–North America transform plate boundary in western Canada and southeastern Alaska for 〈i〉c.〈/i〉 900 km. The entire length of the fault is submerged along a continental margin dominated by Quaternary glacial processes, yet the geomorphology along the margin has never been systematically examined due to the absence of high-resolution seafloor mapping data. Hence the geological processes that influence the distribution, character and timing of mass transport events and their associated hazards remain poorly understood. Here we develop a classification of the first-order shape of the continental shelf, slope and rise to examine potential relationships between form and process dominance. We found that the margin can be split into six geomorphic groups that vary smoothly from north to south between two basic end-members. The northernmost group (west of Chichagof Island, Alaska) is characterized by concave-upwards slope profiles, gentle slope gradients (2 and display scarp heights between 10 and 250 m. Transpression along the Queen Charlotte Fault increases southwards and the slope physiography is thus progressively more influenced by regional-scale tectonic deformation. The southernmost group (west of Haida Gwaii, British Columbia) defines the tectonically dominated end-member: the continental slope is characterized by steep gradients (〉20°) along the flanks of broad, margin-parallel ridges and valleys. Mass transport features in the tectonically dominated areas are mostly observed along steep escarpments and the larger slides (up to 10 km〈sup〉2〈/sup〉) appear to be failures of consolidated material along the flanks of tectonic features. Overall, these observations highlight the role of first-order margin physiography on the distribution and type of submarine landslides expected to occur in particular morphological settings. The sediment-dominated end-member allows for the accumulation of under-consolidated Quaternary sediments and shows larger, more frequent slides; the rugged physiography of the tectonically dominated end-member leads to sediment bypass and the collapse of uplifted tectonic features. The maximum and average dimensions of slides are an order of magnitude smaller than those of slides observed along other (passive) glaciated margins. We propose that the general patterns observed in slide distribution are caused by the interplay between tectonic activity (long- and short-term) and sediment delivery. The recurrence ( 7 earthquakes along the Queen Charlotte Fault may generate small, but frequent, failures of under-consolidated Quaternary sediments within the sediment-dominated regions. By contrast, the tectonically dominated regions are characterized by the bypass of Quaternary sediments to the continental rise and the less frequent collapse of steep, uplifted and consolidated sediments.〈/p〉
    Print ISSN: 0375-6440
    Electronic ISSN: 2041-4927
    Topics: Geosciences
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  • 7
    Publication Date: 2018-05-01
    Description: The Pacific/North America (PA/NA) plate boundary between Vancouver Island and Alaska is similar to the PA/NA boundary in California in its kinematic history and the rate and azimuth of current relative motion, yet their deformation styles are distinct. The California plate boundary shows a broad zone of parallel strike slip and thrust faults and folds, whereas the 49-mm/yr PA/NA relative plate motion in Canada and Alaska is centered on a single, narrow, continuous ~900-km-long fault, the Queen Charlotte Fault (QCF). Using gravity analysis, we propose that this plate boundary is centered on the continent/ocean boundary (COB), an unusual location for continental transform faults because plate boundaries typically localize within the continental lithosphere, which is weaker. Because the COB is a boundary between materials of contrasting elastic properties, once a fault is established there, it will probably remain stable. We propose that deformation progressively shifted to the COB in the wake of Yakutat terrane's northward motion along the margin. Minor convergence across the plate boundary is probably accommodated by fault reactivation on Pacific crust and by an eastward dipping QCF. Underthrusting of Pacific slab under Haida Gwaii occurs at convergence angles 〉14°–15° and may have been responsible for the emergence of the archipelago. The calculated slab entry dip (5°–8°) suggests that the slab probably does not extend into the asthenosphere. The PA/NA plate boundary at the QCF can serve as a structurally simple site to investigate the impact of rheology and composition on crustal deformation and the initiation of slab underthrusting. Published 2018. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.
    Print ISSN: 2169-9313
    Electronic ISSN: 2169-9356
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
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  • 8
    Publication Date: 2014-01-08
    Print ISSN: 0094-8276
    Electronic ISSN: 1944-8007
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
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  • 9
    Publication Date: 2014-03-07
    Description: A post-hurricane survey of a Caribbean island affords comparisons with geologic evidence for greater overwash at the same place. This comparison, though of limited application to other places, helps calibrate coastal geology for assessment of earthquake and tsunami potential along the Antilles Subduction Zone. The surveyed island, Anegada, is 120 km south of the Puerto Rico Trench and is near the paths of hurricanes Donna (1960) and Earl (2010), which were at or near category 4 when at closest approach. The survey focused on Earl's geologic effects, related them to the surge from Hurricane Donna, and compared them further with erosional and depositional signs of southward overwash from the Atlantic Ocean that dates to 1200–1450 AD and to 1650–1800 AD. The main finding is that the geologic effects of these earlier events dwarf those of the recent hurricanes. Hurricane Earl's geologic effects at Anegada, observed mainly in 2011, were limited to wrack deposition along many of the island's shores and salt ponds, accretion of small washover (spillover) fans on the south shore, and the suspension and deposition of microbial material from interior salt ponds. Earl's most widespread deposit at Anegada, the microbial detritus, was abundantly juxtaposed with evidence for catastrophic overwash in prior centuries. The microbial detritus formed an extensive coating up to 2 cm thick that extended into breaches in beach-ridge plains of the island's north shore, onto playas that are underlain by a sand-and-shell sheet that extends as much as 1.5 km southward from the north shore, and among southward-strewn limestone boulders pendant to outcrops as much as 1 km inland. Earl's spillover fans also contrast with a sand-and-shell sheet, which was dated previously to 1650–1800, by being limited to the island's south shore and by extending inland a few tens of meters at most. These findings complement those reported in this issue by Michaela Spiske and Robert Halley (Spiske and Halley, 2014), who studied a coral-rubble ridge that lines part of Anegada's north shore. Spiske and Halley attribute the ridge to storms that were larger than Earl. But they contrast the ridge with coral boulders that were scattered hundreds of meters inland by overwash in 1200–1450.
    Print ISSN: 1680-7340
    Electronic ISSN: 1680-7359
    Topics: Geosciences
    Published by Copernicus on behalf of European Geosciences Union (EGU).
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  • 10
    Publication Date: 2010-05-14
    Description: The 18 November 1867 Virgin Island earthquake and the tsunami that closely followed caused considerable loss of life and damage in several places in the northeast Caribbean region. The earthquake was likely a manifestation of the complex tectonic deformation of the Anegada Passage, which cuts across the Antilles island arc between the Virgin Islands and the Lesser Antilles. In this article, we attempt to characterize the 1867 earthquake with respect to fault orientation, rake, dip, fault dimensions, and first tsunami wave propagating phase, using tsunami simulations that employ high-resolution multibeam bathymetry. In addition, we present new geophysical and geological observations from the region of the suggested earthquake source. Results of our tsunami simulations based on relative amplitude comparison limit the earthquake source to be along the northern wall of the Virgin Islands basin, as suggested by Reid and Taber (1920), or on the carbonate platform north of the basin, and not in the Virgin Islands basin, as commonly assumed. The numerical simulations suggest the 1867 fault was striking 120 degrees -135 degrees and had a mixed normal and left-lateral motion. First propagating wave phase analysis suggests a fault striking 300 degrees -315 degrees is also possible. The best-fitting rupture length was found to be relatively small (50 km), probably indicating the earthquake had a moment magnitude of approximately 7.2. Detailed multibeam echo sounder surveys of the Anegada Passage bathymetry between St. Croix and St. Thomas reveal a scarp, which cuts the northern wall of the Virgin Islands basin. High-resolution seismic profiles further indicate it to be a reasonable fault candidate. However, the fault orientation and the orientation of other subparallel faults in the area are more compatible with right-lateral motion. For the other possible source region, no clear disruption in the bathymetry or seismic profiles was found on the carbonate platform north of the basin.
    Print ISSN: 0037-1106
    Electronic ISSN: 1943-3573
    Topics: Geosciences , Physics
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