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Super-scale failure of the southern Oregon Cascadia margin

Super-scale failure of the southern Oregon Cascadia margin
Super-scale failure of the southern Oregon Cascadia margin
Using SeaBeam bathymetry and multichannel seismic reflection records we have identified three large submarine landslides on the southern Oregon Cascadia margin. The area enclosed by the three arcuate slide scarps is approximately 8000 km2, and involves an estimated 12,000–16,000 km3 of the accretionary wedge. The three arcuate slump escarpments are nearly coincident with the continental shelf edge on their landward margins, spanning the full width of the accretionary wedge. Debris from the slides is buried or partially buried beneath the abyssal plain, covering a subsurface area of at least 8000 km2. The three major slides, called the Heceta, Coos Basin and Blanco slides, display morphologic and structural features typical of submarine landslides. Bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and seismic reflection profiles reveal that regions of the continental slope enclosed by the scarps are chaotic, with poor penetration of seismic energy and numerous diffractions. These regions show little structural coherence, in strong contrast to the fold thrust belt tectonics of the adjacent northern Oregon margin. The bathymetric scarps correlate with listric detachment faults identified on reflection profiles that show large vertical separation and bathymetric relief. Reflection profiles on the adjacent abyssal plain image buried debris packages extending 20–35 km seaward of the base of the continental slope. In the case of the youngest slide, an intersection of slide debris and abyssal plain sediments, rather than a thrust fault, mark the base of slope. The age of the three major slides decreases from south to north, indicated by the progressive northward shallowing of buried debris packages, increasing sharpness of morphologic expression, and southward increase in post-slide reformation of the accretionary wedge. The ages of the events, derived from calculated sedimentation rates in overlying Pleistocene sediments, are approximately 110 ka, 450 ka, and 1210 ka. This series of slides traveled 25–70 km onto the abyssal plain in at least three probably catastrophic events, which may have been triggered by subduction earthquakes. The lack of internal structure in the slide packages, and the considerable distance traveled suggest catastrophic rather than incremental slip, although there could have been multiple events. The slides would have generated large tsunami in the Pacific basin, possibly larger than that generated by an earthquake alone. We have identified a potential future slide off southern Oregon that may be released in a subduction earthquake. The occurrence of the slides and subsequent subduction of the slide debris, along with evidence for margin subsidence implies that basal subduction erosion has occurred over at least the last 1 Ma. The massive failure of the southern Oregon slope may have been the result of the collision of a seamount province or aseismic ridge with the margin, suggested by the age progression of the slides and evidence for subducted basement highs. The lack of latitudinal offset between the oldest slide debris and the corresponding scarp on the continental slope implies that the forearc is translating northward at a substantial fraction of the margin-parallel convergence rate.
Submarine, landslides, tsunami, subduction earthquakes, subduction erosion.
0033-4553
1189-1226
Goldfinger, C.
6d0e65b7-660e-431a-ae9e-d9ea948d1f1c
Kulm, L.D.
3cd2948e-2629-4e15-977d-7b3b89182a12
McNeill, L.C.
1fe6a1e0-ca1a-4b6f-8469-309d0f9de0cf
Watts, P.
98213bc9-aedd-4341-aab0-cfb019b73aeb
Goldfinger, C.
6d0e65b7-660e-431a-ae9e-d9ea948d1f1c
Kulm, L.D.
3cd2948e-2629-4e15-977d-7b3b89182a12
McNeill, L.C.
1fe6a1e0-ca1a-4b6f-8469-309d0f9de0cf
Watts, P.
98213bc9-aedd-4341-aab0-cfb019b73aeb

Goldfinger, C., Kulm, L.D., McNeill, L.C. and Watts, P. (2000) Super-scale failure of the southern Oregon Cascadia margin. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 157 (6/8), 1189-1226. (doi:10.1007/s000240050023).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Using SeaBeam bathymetry and multichannel seismic reflection records we have identified three large submarine landslides on the southern Oregon Cascadia margin. The area enclosed by the three arcuate slide scarps is approximately 8000 km2, and involves an estimated 12,000–16,000 km3 of the accretionary wedge. The three arcuate slump escarpments are nearly coincident with the continental shelf edge on their landward margins, spanning the full width of the accretionary wedge. Debris from the slides is buried or partially buried beneath the abyssal plain, covering a subsurface area of at least 8000 km2. The three major slides, called the Heceta, Coos Basin and Blanco slides, display morphologic and structural features typical of submarine landslides. Bathymetry, sidescan sonar, and seismic reflection profiles reveal that regions of the continental slope enclosed by the scarps are chaotic, with poor penetration of seismic energy and numerous diffractions. These regions show little structural coherence, in strong contrast to the fold thrust belt tectonics of the adjacent northern Oregon margin. The bathymetric scarps correlate with listric detachment faults identified on reflection profiles that show large vertical separation and bathymetric relief. Reflection profiles on the adjacent abyssal plain image buried debris packages extending 20–35 km seaward of the base of the continental slope. In the case of the youngest slide, an intersection of slide debris and abyssal plain sediments, rather than a thrust fault, mark the base of slope. The age of the three major slides decreases from south to north, indicated by the progressive northward shallowing of buried debris packages, increasing sharpness of morphologic expression, and southward increase in post-slide reformation of the accretionary wedge. The ages of the events, derived from calculated sedimentation rates in overlying Pleistocene sediments, are approximately 110 ka, 450 ka, and 1210 ka. This series of slides traveled 25–70 km onto the abyssal plain in at least three probably catastrophic events, which may have been triggered by subduction earthquakes. The lack of internal structure in the slide packages, and the considerable distance traveled suggest catastrophic rather than incremental slip, although there could have been multiple events. The slides would have generated large tsunami in the Pacific basin, possibly larger than that generated by an earthquake alone. We have identified a potential future slide off southern Oregon that may be released in a subduction earthquake. The occurrence of the slides and subsequent subduction of the slide debris, along with evidence for margin subsidence implies that basal subduction erosion has occurred over at least the last 1 Ma. The massive failure of the southern Oregon slope may have been the result of the collision of a seamount province or aseismic ridge with the margin, suggested by the age progression of the slides and evidence for subducted basement highs. The lack of latitudinal offset between the oldest slide debris and the corresponding scarp on the continental slope implies that the forearc is translating northward at a substantial fraction of the margin-parallel convergence rate.

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More information

Published date: 2000
Keywords: Submarine, landslides, tsunami, subduction earthquakes, subduction erosion.

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 1394
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/1394
ISSN: 0033-4553
PURE UUID: 476ece14-a2da-49a1-bb7a-9aa308fc68e9

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Date deposited: 06 May 2004
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 19:39

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Contributors

Author: C. Goldfinger
Author: L.D. Kulm
Author: L.C. McNeill
Author: P. Watts

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