Differences in coastal subsidence in southern Oregon (USA) during at least six prehistoric megathrust earthquakes

Quaternary Science Reviews
By: , and 



Stratigraphic, sedimentologic (including CT 3D X-ray tomography scans), foraminiferal, and radiocarbon analyses show that at least six of seven abrupt peat-to-mud contacts in cores from a tidal marsh at Talbot Creek (South Slough, Coos Bay), record sudden subsidence (relative sea-level rise) during great megathrust earthquakes at the Cascadia subduction zone. Data for one contact are insufficient to infer whether or not it records a great earthquake—it may also have formed through local, non-seismic, hydrographic processes. To estimate the amount of subsidence marked by each contact, we expanded a previous regional modern foraminiferal dataset to 174 samples from six Oregon estuaries. Using a transfer function derived from the new dataset, estimates of coseismic subsidence across the six earthquake contacts vary from 0.31 m to 0.75 m. Comparison of subsidence estimates for three contacts in adjacent cores shows within-site differences of ≤0.10 m, about half the ±0.22 m error, although some estimates may be minimums due to uncertain ecological preferences for Balticammina pseudomacrescens in brackish environments and almost monospecific assemblages of Miliammina fusca on tidal flats. We also account for the influence of taphonomic processes, such as infiltration of mud with mixed foraminiferal assemblages into peat, on subsidence estimates. Comparisons of our subsidence estimates with values for correlative contacts at other Oregon sites suggest that some of our estimates are minimums and that Cascadia's megathrust earthquake ruptures have been heterogeneous over the past 3500 years.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Differences in coastal subsidence in southern Oregon (USA) during at least six prehistoric megathrust earthquakes
Series title Quaternary Science Reviews
DOI 10.1016/j.quascirev.2016.04.017
Volume 142
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 143
Last page 163
Country United States
State Oregon
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