We identify two surfaces in the shallow subsurface on the Eel River margin offshore northern California, a lowstand erosion surface, likely formed during the last glacial maximum, and an overlying surface likely formed during the most recent transgression of the shoreline. The lowstand erosion surface, which extends from the inner shelf to near the shelfbreak and from the Eel River to Trinidad Head (???80 km), truncates underlying strata on the shelf. Above the surface, inferred transgressive coastal and estuarine sedimentary units separate it from the transgressive surface on the shelf. Early in the transgression, Eel River sediment was likely both transported down the Eel Canyon and dispersed on the slope, allowing transgressive coastal sediment from the smaller Mad River to accumulate in a recognizable deposit on the shelf. The location of coastal Mad River sediment accumulation was controlled by the location of the paleo-Mad River. Throughout the remainder of the transgression, dispersed sediment from the Eel River accumulated an average of 20 m of onlapping shelf deposits. The distribution and thickness of these transgressive marine units was strongly modified by northwest-southeast trending folds. Thick sediment packages accumulated over structural lows in the lowstand surface. The thinnest sediment accumulations (0-10 m) were deposited over structural highs along faults and uplifting anticlines. The Eel margin, an active margin with steep, high sediment-load streams, has developed a thick transgressive systems tract. On this margin sediment accumulates as rapidly as the processes of uplift and downwarp locally create and destroy accommodation space. Sequence stratigraphic models of tectonically active margins should account for variations in accommodation space along margins as well as across them. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.