A side-scan sonar survey was conducted of Monterey Canyon and the San Gregorio fault zone, off shore of Monterey Bay. The acoustic character and morphology of the sonar images, enhanced by SeaBeam bathymetry, show the path of the San Gregorio fault zone across the shelf, upper slope, and Monterey Canyon. High backscatter linear features a few kilometers long and 100 to 200 m wide delineate the sea-floor expression of the fault zone on the shelf. Previous studies have shown that brachiopod pavements and carbonate crusts are the source of the lineations backscatter. In Monterey Canyon, the fault zone occurs where the path of the canyon makes a sharp bend from WNW to SSW (1800 m). Here, the fault is marked by NW-SE-trending, high reflectivity lineations that cross the canyon floor between 1850 m and 1900 m. The lineations can be traced to ridges on the northwestern canyon wall where they have ~ 15 m of relief. Above the low-relief ridges, bowl-shaped features have been excavated on the canyon wall contributing to the widening of the canyon. We suggest that shear along the San Gregorio fault has led to the formation of the low-relief ridges near the canyon wall and that carbonate crusts, as along the shelf, may be the source of the high backscatter features on the canyon floor. The path of the fault zone across the upper slope is marked by elongated tributary canyons with high backscatter floors and 'U'-shaped cross-sectional profiles. Linear features and stepped scarps suggestive of recent crustal movement and mass-wasting, occur on the walls and floors of these canyons. Three magnitude-4 earthquakes have occurred within the last 30 years in the vicinity of the canyons that may have contributed to the observed features. As shown by others, motion along the fault zone has juxtaposed diverse lithologies that outcrop on the canyon walls. Gully morphology and the canyon's drainage patterns have been influenced by the substrate into which the gullies have formed.
Additional publication details
The influence of the San Gregorio fault on the morphology of Monterey Canyon