Structural controls on slope failure within the western Santa Barbara Channel based on 2D and 3D seismic imaging

Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems
By: , and 



The Santa Barbara Channel, offshore California, contains several submarine landslides and ample evidence for incipient failure. This region hosts active thrust and reverse faults that accommodate several mm/yr of convergence, yet the relationships between tectonic deformation and slope failure remain unclear. We present 3‐D and 2‐D multichannel seismic reflection (MCS) data sets, multibeam bathymetry, and chronostratigraphic constraints to investigate the controls on slope failure. Splay faulting along the North Channel Deformation Trend (NCDT) coincides with a distinct zone of compressional uplift and onlapping of steeply dipping Quaternary strata. The NCDT is spatially correlated with seafloor fissures, and 3‐D seismic analyses reveal an intricate system of en echelon reverse faults that offset sediments younger than ~25 ka. Localized uplift zones are located between faults, one of which underlies the Gaviota landslide headscarp. We observe a direct relationship between slope failure and along‐strike variations in the tectonostratigraphic framework. Based on geophysical properties at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 893, we predict a trend in compaction and porosity reduction in the basin that drives pore fluids up‐dip, toward the zone of onlap above the NCDT, thus reducing slope stability. This interplay between tectonic, sedimentary, and fluid‐flow processes along the NCDT has created a confluence of preconditioning factors, with Gaviota and Goleta landslides being distinguished from the surrounding slopes by their position above the NCDT. The distribution of seafloor fissures suggests sections of the slope remain unstable and are prone to future landsliding. These results provide insights into the processes and 3‐D feedbacks that lead to slope instability along other convergent margins.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Structural controls on slope failure within the western Santa Barbara Channel based on 2D and 3D seismic imaging
Series title Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems
DOI 10.1029/2020GC009055
Volume 21
Issue 8
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description e2020GC009055, 34 p.
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Santa Barbara channel
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