Long-range large-scale side-scan (GLORIA) information, other seismic reflection profiling studies, and data from cores in the California Continental Borderland, have defined active levee-channel systems extending basinward from the lower fan of Hueneme-Mugu Submarine Fan, Redondo Submarine Fan, and Santa Cruz Canyon Fan in Santa Monica, San Pedro and Santa Cruz Basins, respectively. The Holocene distributaries have been created by a series of turbidity current events. These distributaries range in length from 10-25 km, and are wide (2-5 km) and low-relief (1-10 m) in their distal parts. They are also active conduits for nepheloid flows. Distributions of sedimentological parameters typically mimic the pattern of levee-channel systems. Organic carbon and biogenic carbonate content roughly outline the systems. Channels are incised in the upper to middle fan areas, and become constructional leveed channels in the lower fan and basin plain as the channel gradient adjusts to maintain a graded profile. Thus sediment gravity flows are generally confined to channels in the upper fan zones, but deposit both channelized and over-bank deposits on the lower fan and basin floor. The deposits show that the canyon-fan activity has continued during a rising sea level phase. It is evident that canyon headward erosion rates have been equal to or greater than the transgression rate, and that the canyon-fan systems have remained linked with their sediment sources. Frequency of events was probably higher, and volumes of the events were often larger, during the glacially lowered sea level episodes. However, turbidity currents of sufficient volume to reach the basin floors continue to occur at century or multi-century intervals. As one progresses headward in each system, the number of flows per length of core increases. Small flows that do not pass beyond the distributaries are much more frequent, and may be decadal in frequency, or even more frequent in the Santa Monica Basin system. These California borderland basins are probably typical of narrow active margins where rate of lateral sea level transgression is less than or equal to the rate of canyon headward erosion. The canyons maintain connections with sediment sources during sea level rise, and the systems therefore are active during the entire sea level cycle. Thus sediment supply is not a simple function of eustacy. This contrasts with the simplified sequence model developed on passive margins where canyons turn off as sea level rises.
Additional publication details
Contemporary channel-levee systems in active borderland basin plains, California Continental Borderland