Submarine Neotectonic Investigations of the Bahia Soledad Fault, off Northern Baja California Near the US – Mexico Border
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) conducted detailed surveys at selected sites on the seafloor along the Bahia Soledad Fault offshore of Northern Baja California, Mexico, during a two-ship expedition in the spring of 2015. The Bahia Soledad Fault is a NNW-trending strike-slip fault that is likely continuous with the San Diego Trough Fault offshore of San Diego, California. Constraining the style of deformation, continuity, and slip rate along this fault system is critical to characterizing the seismic hazards to the adjacent coastal areas extending from Los Angeles to Ensenada. Detailed morphologic surveys were conducted using an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) to provide ultra high-resolution multibeam bathymetry (vertical precision of 0.15 m and horizontal resolution of 1.0 m). The AUV also carried a 2-10 kHz chirp sub-bottom profiler and an Edgetech 110kHz and 410kHz sidescan. The two sites along the Bahia Soledad Fault each run ~6 km along the fault with ~1.8 km wide footprint. The resulting bathymetry shows these fault zones are marked with distinct lineations that are flanked by ~1 km long elongated ridges and depressions which are interpreted to be transpressional pop-up structures and transtensional pull-apart basins up to 100 m of relief. Offset seismic reflectors that extend to near the seafloor confirm that these lineations are fault scarps. The detailed bathymetric maps and sub-bottom profiles were used to locate key sites where deformed stratigraphic horizons along the fault are within 1.5 m of the seafloor. These areas were sampled using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with a vibracoring system capable of collecting precisely located cores that are up to 1.5 m long. The coupled use of multibeam imagery and surgically-collected stratigraphic samples will enable to constrain the frequency and timing of recent movements on this fault which will be useful to incorporated into future seismic hazard assessment.