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A series of marine surveys using high-resolution seismic-reflection and side-scan sonar profiling was conducted on the Klamath River delta from 1977 to 1985. In November 1980, near the middle of this 8-year time period, a major earthquake (magnitude 7) occurred in the area. The earthquake caused liquefaction of shelf deposits off the Klamath River, and while mapping the sediment failures, we observed an inordinate number of gas vents and acoustic anomalies in the sediment (gas charging) and water column (gas clouds). Our analyses indicate that a change in gas seepage occurred after the earthquake. There was a marked increase in gas abundance immediately after the earthquake, a gradual decrease over the next year, and stabilization at pre-earthquake gas levels within five years or less. The acoustic anomalies were observed in pre-Quaternary rocks as well as in surficial Holocene deposits, and gas seeps overlay truncated anticlines, faults, and syncline exposures. Thus, the gas released may have been in part thermogenic in origin. A large area (20 km2) on the delta failed during the earthquake, and the abundance of gas seeps and craters in the area suggests that sediment degassing may have been an important process contributing to failure. ?? 1987.
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Seafloor gas seeps triggered by a northern California earthquake