Seismic stratigraphy and late Quaternary shelf history, south-central Monterey Bay, California

Marine Geology

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The south-central Monterey Bay shelf is a high-energy, wave-dominated, tectonically active coastal region on the central California continental margin. A prominent feature of this shelf is a sediment lobe off the mouth of the Salinas River that has surface expression. High-resolution seismic-reflection profiles reveal that an angular unconformity (Quaternary?) underlies the entire shelf and separates undeformed strata above it from deformed strata below it. The Salinas River lobe is a convex bulge on the shelf covering an area of approximately 72 km2 in water depths from 10 to 90 m. It reaches a maximum thickness of 35 m about 2.5 km seaward of the river mouth and thins in all directions away from this point. Adjacent shelf areas are characterized by only a thin (2 to 5 m thick) and uniform veneer of sediment. Acoustic stratigraphy of the lobe is complex and is characterized by at least three unconformity-bounded depositional sequences. Acoustically, these sequences are relatively well bedded. Acoustic foresets occur within the intermediate sequence and dip seaward at 0.7?? to 2.0??. Comparison with sedimentary sequences in uplifted onshore Pleistocene marine-terrace deposits of the Monterey Bay area, which were presumably formed in a similar setting under similar processes, suggests that a general interpretation can be formulated for seismic stratigraphic patterns. Depositional sequences are interpreted to represent shallowing-upwards progradational sequences of marine to nonmarine coastal deposits formed during interglacial highstands and/or during early stages of falling sea level. Acoustic foresets within the intermediate sequence are evidence of seaward progradation. Acoustic unconformities that separate depositional sequences are interpreted as having formed largely by shoreface planation and may be the only record of the intervening transgressions. The internal stratigraphy of the Salinas River lobe thus suggests that at least several late Quaternary regressions and transgressions may be recorded under the present shelf. This record may represent the last major eustatic cycle of sea level, an interval not observed in uplifted onshore Pleistocene marine terraces. ?? 1988.

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Seismic stratigraphy and late Quaternary shelf history, south-central Monterey Bay, California
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Marine Geology
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Marine Geology
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