272 research outputs found

    Bathymetric terrain model of the Atlantic margin for marine geological investigations.

    Get PDF
    Bathymetric terrain models of seafloor morphology are an important component of marine geological investigations. Advances in acquisition and processing technologies of bathymetric data have facilitated the creation of high-resolution bathymetric surfaces that approach the resolution of similar surfaces available for onshore investigations. These bathymetric terrain models provide a detailed representation of the Earth’s subaqueous surface and, when combined with other geophysical and geological datasets, allow for interpretation of modern and ancient geological processes. The purpose of the bathymetric terrain model presented in this report is to provide a high-quality bathymetric surface of the Atlantic margin of the United States that can be used to augment current and future marine geological investigations. The input data for this bathymetric terrain model, covering almost 305,000 square kilometers, were acquired by several sources, including the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Geophysical Data Center and the Ocean Exploration Program, the University of New Hampshire, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. These data have been edited using hydrographic data processing software to maximize the quality, usability, and cartographic presentation of the combined terrain model

    Size distribution of submarine landslides and its implication to tsunami hazard in Puerto Rico

    Get PDF
    Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2006. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 33 (2006): L11307, doi:10.1029/2006GL026125.We have established for the first time a size frequency distribution for carbonate submarine slope failures. Using detailed bathymetry along the northern edge of the carbonate platform north of Puerto Rico, we show that the cumulative distribution of slope failure volumes follows a power-law distribution. The power-law exponent of this distribution is similar to those for rock falls on land, commensurate with their interpreted failure mode. The carbonate volume distribution and its associated volume-area relationship are significantly different from those for clay-rich debris lobes in the Storegga slide, Norway. Coupling this relationship with tsunami simulations allows an estimate of the maximum tsunami runup and the maximum number of potentially damaging tsunamis from landslides to the north shore of Puerto Rico

    Geomorphic characterization of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin

    Get PDF
    This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Marine Geology 338 (2013): 46–63, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2012.12.008.The increasing volume of multibeam bathymetry data collected along continental margins is providing new opportunities to study the feedbacks between sedimentary and oceanographic processes and seafloor morphology. Attempts to develop simple guidelines that describe the relationships between form and process often overlook the importance of inherited physiography in slope depositional systems. Here, we use multibeam bathymetry data and seismic reflection profiles spanning the U.S. Atlantic outer continental shelf, slope and rise from Cape Hatteras to New England to quantify the broad-scale, across-margin morphological variation. Morphometric analyses suggest the margin can be divided into four basic categories that roughly align with Quaternary sedimentary provinces. Within each category, Quaternary sedimentary processes exerted heavy modification of submarine canyons, landslide complexes and the broad-scale morphology of the continental rise, but they appear to have preserved much of the pre-Quaternary, across-margin shape of the continental slope. Without detailed constraints on the substrate structure, first-order morphological categorization the U.S. Atlantic margin does not provide a reliable framework for predicting relationships between form and process.This work was funded by the USGS Mendenhall Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

    Effects of 2010 Hurricane Earl amidst geologic evidence for greater overwash at Anegada, British Virgin Islands

    Get PDF
    © The Author(s), 2014. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Advances in Geosciences 38 (2014): 21-30, doi:10.5194/adgeo-38-21-2014.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

    Geomorphic process fingerprints in submarine canyons

    Get PDF
    This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Marine Geology 337 (2013): 53-66, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2013.01.005.Submarine canyons are common features of continental margins worldwide. They are conduits that funnel vast quantities of sediment from the continents to the deep sea. Though it is known that submarine canyons form primarily from erosion induced by submarine sediment flows, we currently lack quantitative, empirically based expressions that describe the morphology of submarine canyon networks. Multibeam bathymetry data along the entire passive US Atlantic margin (USAM) and along the active central California margin near Monterey Bay provide an opportunity to examine the fine-scale morphology of 171 slope-sourced canyons. Log–log regression analyses of canyon thalweg gradient (S) versus up-canyon catchment area (A) are used to examine linkages between morphological domains and the generation and evolution of submarine sediment flows. For example, canyon reaches of the upper continental slope are characterized by steep, linear and/or convex longitudinal profiles, whereas reaches farther down canyon have distinctly concave longitudinal profiles. The transition between these geomorphic domains is inferred to represent the downslope transformation of debris flows into erosive, canyon-flushing turbidity flows. Over geologic timescales this process appears to leave behind a predictable geomorphic fingerprint that is dependent on the catchment area of the canyon head. Catchment area, in turn, may be a proxy for the volume of sediment released during geomorphically significant failures along the upper continental slope. Focused studies of slope-sourced submarine canyons may provide new insights into the relationships between fine-scale canyon morphology and down-canyon changes in sediment flow dynamics

    Deformation of the Pacific/North America plate boundary at Queen Charlotte Fault : the possible role of rheology

    Get PDF
    Published 2018. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 123 (2018): 4223-4242, doi:10.1002/2017JB014770.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

    Assessment of tsunami hazard to the U.S. Atlantic margin

    Get PDF
    This paper is not subject to U.S. copyright. The definitive version was published in Marine Geology 353 (2014): 31-54, doi:10.1016/j.margeo.2014.02.011.Tsunami hazard is a very low-probability, but potentially high-risk natural hazard, posing unique challenges to scientists and policy makers trying to mitigate its impacts. These challenges are illustrated in this assessment of tsunami hazard to the U.S. Atlantic margin. Seismic activity along the U.S. Atlantic margin in general is low, and confirmed paleo-tsunami deposits have not yet been found, suggesting a very low rate of hazard. However, the devastating 1929 Grand Banks tsunami along the Atlantic margin of Canada shows that these events continue to occur. Densely populated areas, extensive industrial and port facilities, and the presence of ten nuclear power plants along the coast, make this region highly vulnerable to flooding by tsunamis and therefore even low-probability events need to be evaluated. We can presently draw several tentative conclusions regarding tsunami hazard to the U.S. Atlantic coast. Landslide tsunamis likely constitute the biggest tsunami hazard to the coast. Only a small number of landslides have so far been dated and they are generally older than 10,000 years. The geographical distribution of landslides along the margin is expected to be uneven and to depend on the distribution of seismic activity along the margin and on the geographical distribution of Pleistocene sediment. We do not see evidence that gas hydrate dissociation contributes to the generation of landslides along the U.S. Atlantic margin. Analysis of landslide statistics along the fluvial and glacial portions of the margin indicate that most of the landslides are translational, were probably initiated by seismic acceleration, and failed as aggregate slope failures. How tsunamis are generated from aggregate landslides remains however, unclear. Estimates of the recurrence interval of earthquakes along the continental slope may provide maximum estimates for the recurrence interval of landslide along the margin. Tsunamis caused by atmospheric disturbances and by coastal earthquakes may be more frequent than those generated by landslides, but their amplitudes are probably smaller. Among the possible far-field earthquake sources, only earthquakes located within the Gulf of Cadiz or west of the Tore-Madeira Rise are likely to affect the U.S. coast. It is questionable whether earthquakes on the Puerto Rico Trench are capable of producing a large enough tsunami that will affect the U.S. Atlantic coast. More information is needed to evaluate the seismic potential of the northern Cuba fold-and-thrust belt. The hazard from a volcano flank collapse in the Canary Islands is likely smaller than originally stated, and there is not enough information to evaluate the magnitude and frequency of flank collapse from the Azores Islands. Both deterministic and probabilistic methods to evaluate the tsunami hazard from the margin are available for application to the Atlantic margin, but their implementation requires more information than is currently available.The work was funded by the U.S.-NRC Job Code V6166: Tsunami Landslide Source Probability and Potential Impact on New and Existing Power Plants

    Seabed fluid expulsion along the upper slope and outer shelf of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin

    Get PDF
    Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geophysical Research Letters 41 (2014): 96-101, doi:10.1002/2013GL058048.Identifying the spatial distribution of seabed fluid expulsion features is crucial for understanding the substrate plumbing system of any continental margin. A 1100 km stretch of the U.S. Atlantic margin contains more than 5000 pockmarks at water depths of 120 m (shelf edge) to 700 m (upper slope), mostly updip of the contemporary gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). Advanced attribute analyses of high-resolution multichannel seismic reflection data reveal gas-charged sediment and probable fluid chimneys beneath pockmark fields. A series of enhanced reflectors, inferred to represent hydrate-bearing sediments, occur within the GHSZ. Differential sediment loading at the shelf edge and warming-induced gas hydrate dissociation along the upper slope are the proposed mechanisms that led to transient changes in substrate pore fluid overpressure, vertical fluid/gas migration, and pockmark formation.The U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission funded this research.2014-07-0
    corecore