Chaytor Jason D.

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Jason D.

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  • Preprint
    Geologic controls on submarine slope failure along the central U.S. Atlantic margin : insights from the Currituck Slide Complex
    ( 2016-10) Hill, Jenna C. ; Brothers, Daniel S. ; Craig, Bradley K. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; Flores, Claudia H.
    Multiple styles of failure, ranging from densely spaced, mass transport driven canyons to the large, slab-type slope failure of the Currituck Slide, characterize adjacent sections of the central U.S. Atlantic margin that appear to be defined by variations in geologic framework. Here we use regionally extensive, deep penetration multichannel seismic (MCS) profiles to reconstruct the influence of the antecedent margin physiography on sediment accumulation along the central U.S. Atlantic continental shelf-edge, slope, and uppermost rise from the Miocene to Present. These data are combined with highresolution sparker MCS reflection profiles and multibeam bathymetry data across the Currituck Slide complex. Pre-Neogene allostratigraphic horizons beneath the slope are generally characterized by low gradients and convex downslope profiles. This is followed by the development of thick, prograded deltaic clinoforms during the middle Miocene. Along-strike variations in morphology of a regional unconformity at the top of this middle Miocene unit appear to have set the stage for differing styles of mass transport along the margin. Areas north and south of the Currituck Slide are characterized by oblique margin morphology, defined by an angular shelf-edge and a relatively steep (>8°), concave slope profile. Upper slope sediment bypass, closely spaced submarine canyons, and small, localized landslides confined to canyon heads and sidewalls characterize these sectors of the margin. In contrast, the Currituck region is defined by a sigmoidal geometry, with a rounded shelf-edge rollover and gentler slope gradient (<6°). Thick (>800 m), regionally continuous stratified slope deposits suggest the low gradient Currituck region was a primary depocenter for fluvial inputs during multiple sea level lowstands. These results imply that the rounded, gentle slope physiography developed during the middle Miocene allowed for a relatively high rate of subsequent sediment accumulation, thus providing a mechanism for compaction–induced overpressure that preconditioned the Currituck region for failure. Detailed examination of the regional geological framework illustrates the importance of both sediment supply and antecedent slope physiography in the development of large, potentially unstable depocenters along passive margins.
  • Article
    Morphology of late Quaternary submarine landslides along the U.S. Atlantic continental margin
    (Elsevier B.V., 2009-02-21) Twichell, David C. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Buczkowski, Brian
    The nearly complete coverage of the U.S. Atlantic continental slope and rise by multibeam bathymetry and backscatter imagery provides an opportunity to reevaluate the distribution of submarine landslides along the margin and reassess the controls on their formation. Landslides can be divided into two categories based on their source areas: those sourced in submarine canyons and those sourced on the open continental slope and rise. Landslide distribution is in part controlled by the Quaternary history of the margin. They cover 33% of the continental slope and rise of the glacially influenced New England margin, 16% of the sea floor offshore of the fluvially dominated Middle Atlantic margin, and 13% of the sea floor south of Cape Hatteras. The headwall scarps of open-slope sourced landslides occur mostly on the lower slope and upper rise while they occur mostly on the upper slope in the canyon-sourced ones. The deposits from both landslide categories are generally thin (mostly 20–40 m thick) and comprised primarily of Quaternary material, but the volumes of the open-slope sourced landslide deposits can be larger (1–392 km3) than the canyon-sourced ones (1–10 km3). The largest failures are located seaward of shelf-edge deltas along the southern New England margin and near salt domes that breach the sea floor south of Cape Hatteras. The spatial distribution of landslides indicates that earthquakes associated with rebound of the glaciated part of the margin or earthquakes associated with salt domes were probably the primary triggering mechanism although other processes may have pre-conditioned sediments for failure. The largest failures and those that have the potential to generate the largest tsunamis are the open-slope sourced landslides.
  • Article
    Extension in Mona Passage, Northeast Caribbean
    (Elsevier B.V., 2010-07-15) Chaytor, Jason D. ; ten Brink, Uri S.
    As shown by the recent Mw 7.0 Haiti earthquake, intra-arc deformation, which accompanies the subduction process, can present seismic and tsunami hazards to nearby islands. Spatially-limited diffuse tectonic deformation within the Northeast Caribbean Plate Boundary Zone likely led to the development of the submerged Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. GPS geodetic data and a moderate to high level of seismicity indicate that extension within the region is ongoing. Newly-collected high-resolution multibeam bathymetry and multi-channel seismic reflection profiles and previously-collected samples are used here to determine the tectonic evolution of the Mona Passage intra-arc region. The passage is floored almost completely by Oligocene–Pliocene carbonate platform strata, which have undergone submarine and subaerial erosion. Structurally, the passage is characterized by W- to NNW-trending normal faults that offset the entire thickness of the Oligo–Pliocene carbonate platform rocks. The orientation of these faults is compatible with the NE-oriented extension vector observed in GPS data. Fault geometry best fits an oblique extension model rather than previously proposed single-phase, poly-phase, bending-moment, or rotation extension models. The intersection of these generally NW-trending faults in Mona Passage with the N–S oriented faults of Mona Canyon may reflect differing responses of the brittle upper-crust, along an arc–forearc rheological boundary, to oblique subduction along the Puerto Rico trench. Several faults within the passage, if ruptured completely, are long enough to generate earthquakes with magnitudes on the order of Mw 6.5–7.
  • Article
    Geomorphic process fingerprints in submarine canyons
    (Elsevier, 2013-02-07) Brothers, Daniel S. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Andrews, Brian D. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; Twichell, David C.
    Submarine canyons are common features of continental margins worldwide. They are conduits that funnel vast quantities of sediment from the continents to the deep sea. Though it is known that submarine canyons form primarily from erosion induced by submarine sediment flows, we currently lack quantitative, empirically based expressions that describe the morphology of submarine canyon networks. Multibeam bathymetry data along the entire passive US Atlantic margin (USAM) and along the active central California margin near Monterey Bay provide an opportunity to examine the fine-scale morphology of 171 slope-sourced canyons. Log–log regression analyses of canyon thalweg gradient (S) versus up-canyon catchment area (A) are used to examine linkages between morphological domains and the generation and evolution of submarine sediment flows. For example, canyon reaches of the upper continental slope are characterized by steep, linear and/or convex longitudinal profiles, whereas reaches farther down canyon have distinctly concave longitudinal profiles. The transition between these geomorphic domains is inferred to represent the downslope transformation of debris flows into erosive, canyon-flushing turbidity flows. Over geologic timescales this process appears to leave behind a predictable geomorphic fingerprint that is dependent on the catchment area of the canyon head. Catchment area, in turn, may be a proxy for the volume of sediment released during geomorphically significant failures along the upper continental slope. Focused studies of slope-sourced submarine canyons may provide new insights into the relationships between fine-scale canyon morphology and down-canyon changes in sediment flow dynamics.
  • Preprint
    Demersal fish assemblages on seamounts and other rugged features in the northeastern Caribbean
    ( 2017-03) Quattrini, Andrea M. ; Demopoulos, Amanda W. J. ; Singer, Randal ; Roa-Varon, Adela ; Chaytor, Jason D.
    Recent investigations of demersal fish communities in deepwater (>50 m) habitats have considerably increased our knowledge of the factors that influence the assemblage structure of fishes across mesophotic to deep-sea depths. While different habitat types influence deepwater fish distribution, whether different types of rugged seafloor features provide functionally equivalent habitat for fishes is poorly understood. In the northeastern Caribbean, different types of rugged features (e.g., seamounts, banks, canyons) punctuate insular margins, and thus create a remarkable setting in which to compare demersal fish communities across various features. Concurrently, several water masses are vertically layered in the water column, creating strong stratification layers corresponding to specific abiotic conditions. In this study, we examined differences among fish assemblages across different features (e.g., seamount, canyon, bank/ridge) and water masses at depths ranging from 98 to 4060 m in the northeastern Caribbean. We conducted 26 remotely operated vehicle dives across 18 sites, identifying 156 species of which 42% of had not been previously recorded from particular depths or localities in the region. While rarefaction curves indicated fewer species at seamounts than at other features in the NE Caribbean, assemblage structure was similar among the different types of features. Thus, similar to seamount studies in other regions, seamounts in the Anegada Passage do not harbor distinct communities from other types of rugged features. Species assemblages, however, differed among depths, with zonation generally corresponding to water mass boundaries in the region. High species turnover occurred at depths <1200 m, and may be driven by changes in water mass characteristics including temperature (4.8–24.4 °C) and dissolved oxygen (2.2–9.5 mg per l). Our study suggests the importance of water masses in influencing community structure of benthic fauna, while considerably adding to the knowledge of mesophotic and deep-sea fish biogeography.
  • Article
    Hydrodynamic modeling of tsunamis from the Currituck landslide
    (Elsevier B.V., 2008-10-18) Geist, Eric L. ; Lynett, Patrick J. ; Chaytor, Jason D.
    Tsunami generation from the Currituck landslide offshore North Carolina and propagation of waves toward the U.S. coastline are modeled based on recent geotechnical analysis of slide movement. A long and intermediate wave modeling package (COULWAVE) based on the non-linear Boussinesq equations are used to simulate the tsunami. This model includes procedures to incorporate bottom friction, wave breaking, and overland flow during runup. Potential tsunamis generated from the Currituck landslide are analyzed using four approaches: (1) tsunami wave history is calculated from several different scenarios indicated by geotechnical stability and mobility analyses; (2) a sensitivity analysis is conducted to determine the effects of both landslide failure duration during generation and bottom friction along the continental shelf during propagation; (3) wave history is calculated over a regional area to determine the propagation of energy oblique to the slide axis; and (4) a high-resolution 1D model is developed to accurately model wave breaking and the combined influence of nonlinearity and dispersion during nearshore propagation and runup. The primary source parameter that affects tsunami severity for this case study is landslide volume, with failure duration having a secondary influence. Bottom friction during propagation across the continental shelf has a strong influence on the attenuation of the tsunami during propagation. The high-resolution 1D model also indicates that the tsunami undergoes nonlinear fission prior to wave breaking, generating independent, short-period waves. Wave breaking occurs approximately 40–50 km offshore where a tsunami bore is formed that persists during runup. These analyses illustrate the complex nature of landslide tsunamis, necessitating the use of detailed landslide stability/mobility models and higher-order hydrodynamic models to determine their hazard.
  • Article
    Geomorphic characterization of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin
    (Elsevier B.V., 2013-01-10) Brothers, Daniel S. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Andrews, Brian D. ; Chaytor, Jason D.
    The increasing volume of multibeam bathymetry data collected along continental margins is providing new opportunities to study the feedbacks between sedimentary and oceanographic processes and seafloor morphology. Attempts to develop simple guidelines that describe the relationships between form and process often overlook the importance of inherited physiography in slope depositional systems. Here, we use multibeam bathymetry data and seismic reflection profiles spanning the U.S. Atlantic outer continental shelf, slope and rise from Cape Hatteras to New England to quantify the broad-scale, across-margin morphological variation. Morphometric analyses suggest the margin can be divided into four basic categories that roughly align with Quaternary sedimentary provinces. Within each category, Quaternary sedimentary processes exerted heavy modification of submarine canyons, landslide complexes and the broad-scale morphology of the continental rise, but they appear to have preserved much of the pre-Quaternary, across-margin shape of the continental slope. Without detailed constraints on the substrate structure, first-order morphological categorization the U.S. Atlantic margin does not provide a reliable framework for predicting relationships between form and process.
  • Article
    Assessment of tsunami hazard to the U.S. Atlantic margin
    (Elsevier, 2014-03-22) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; Geist, Eric L. ; Brothers, Daniel S. ; Andrews, Brian D.
    Tsunami hazard is a very low-probability, but potentially high-risk natural hazard, posing unique challenges to scientists and policy makers trying to mitigate its impacts. These challenges are illustrated in this assessment of tsunami hazard to the U.S. Atlantic margin. Seismic activity along the U.S. Atlantic margin in general is low, and confirmed paleo-tsunami deposits have not yet been found, suggesting a very low rate of hazard. However, the devastating 1929 Grand Banks tsunami along the Atlantic margin of Canada shows that these events continue to occur. Densely populated areas, extensive industrial and port facilities, and the presence of ten nuclear power plants along the coast, make this region highly vulnerable to flooding by tsunamis and therefore even low-probability events need to be evaluated. We can presently draw several tentative conclusions regarding tsunami hazard to the U.S. Atlantic coast. Landslide tsunamis likely constitute the biggest tsunami hazard to the coast. Only a small number of landslides have so far been dated and they are generally older than 10,000 years. The geographical distribution of landslides along the margin is expected to be uneven and to depend on the distribution of seismic activity along the margin and on the geographical distribution of Pleistocene sediment. We do not see evidence that gas hydrate dissociation contributes to the generation of landslides along the U.S. Atlantic margin. Analysis of landslide statistics along the fluvial and glacial portions of the margin indicate that most of the landslides are translational, were probably initiated by seismic acceleration, and failed as aggregate slope failures. How tsunamis are generated from aggregate landslides remains however, unclear. Estimates of the recurrence interval of earthquakes along the continental slope may provide maximum estimates for the recurrence interval of landslide along the margin. Tsunamis caused by atmospheric disturbances and by coastal earthquakes may be more frequent than those generated by landslides, but their amplitudes are probably smaller. Among the possible far-field earthquake sources, only earthquakes located within the Gulf of Cadiz or west of the Tore-Madeira Rise are likely to affect the U.S. coast. It is questionable whether earthquakes on the Puerto Rico Trench are capable of producing a large enough tsunami that will affect the U.S. Atlantic coast. More information is needed to evaluate the seismic potential of the northern Cuba fold-and-thrust belt. The hazard from a volcano flank collapse in the Canary Islands is likely smaller than originally stated, and there is not enough information to evaluate the magnitude and frequency of flank collapse from the Azores Islands. Both deterministic and probabilistic methods to evaluate the tsunami hazard from the margin are available for application to the Atlantic margin, but their implementation requires more information than is currently available.
  • Article
    Mature diffuse tectonic block boundary revealed by the 2020 southwestern Puerto Rico seismic sequence
    (American Geophysical Union, 2022-02-08) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Vanacore, Elizabeth A. ; Fielding, Eric J. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; Lopez-Venegas, Alberto M. ; Baldwin, William S. ; Foster, David S. ; Andrews, Brian D.
    Distributed faulting typically tends to coalesce into one or a few faults with repeated deformation. The progression of clustered medium-sized (≥Mw4.5) earthquakes during the 2020 seismic sequence in southwestern Puerto Rico (SWPR), modeling shoreline subsidence from InSAR, and sub-seafloor mapping by high-resolution seismic reflection profiles, suggest that the 2020 SWPR seismic sequence was distributed across several short intersecting strike-slip and normal faults beneath the insular shelf and upper slope of Guayanilla submarine canyon. Multibeam bathymetry map of the seafloor shows significant erosion and retreat of the shelf edge in the area of seismic activity as well as slope-parallel lineaments and submarine canyon meanders that typically develop over geological time. The T-axis of the moderate earthquakes further matches the extension direction previously measured on post early Pliocene (∼>3 Ma) faults. We conclude that although similar deformation has likely taken place in this area during recent geologic time, it does not appear to have coalesced during this time. The deformation may represent the southernmost part of a diffuse boundary, the Western Puerto Rico Deformation Boundary, which accommodates differential movement between the Puerto Rico and Hispaniola arc blocks. This differential movement is possibly driven by the differential seismic coupling along the Puerto Rico—Hispaniola subduction zone. We propose that the compositional heterogeneity across the island arc retards the process of focusing the deformation into a single fault. Given the evidence presented here, we should not expect a single large event in this area but similar diffuse sequences in the future.
  • Article
    Exploration of the canyon-incised continental margin of the northeastern United States reveals dynamic habitats and diverse communities
    (Public Library of Science, 2015-10-28) Quattrini, Andrea M. ; Nizinski, Martha S. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; Demopoulos, Amanda W. J. ; Roark, E. Brendan ; France, Scott C. ; Moore, Jon A. ; Heyl, Taylor ; Auster, Peter J. ; Kinlan, Brian ; Ruppel, Carolyn D. ; Elliott, Kelley P. ; Kennedy, Brian R. C. ; Lobecker, Elizabeth ; Skarke, Adam ; Shank, Timothy M.
    The continental margin off the northeastern United States (NEUS) contains numerous, topographically complex features that increase habitat heterogeneity across the region. However, the majority of these rugged features have never been surveyed, particularly using direct observations. During summer 2013, 31 Remotely-Operated Vehicle (ROV) dives were conducted from 494 to 3271 m depth across a variety of seafloor features to document communities and to infer geological processes that produced such features. The ROV surveyed six broad-scale habitat features, consisting of shelf-breaching canyons, slope-sourced canyons, inter-canyon areas, open-slope/landslide-scar areas, hydrocarbon seeps, and Mytilus Seamount. Four previously unknown chemosynthetic communities dominated by Bathymodiolus mussels were documented. Seafloor methane hydrate was observed at two seep sites. Multivariate analyses indicated that depth and broad-scale habitat significantly influenced megafaunal coral (58 taxa), demersal fish (69 taxa), and decapod crustacean (34 taxa) assemblages. Species richness of fishes and crustaceans significantly declined with depth, while there was no relationship between coral richness and depth. Turnover in assemblage structure occurred on the middle to lower slope at the approximate boundaries of water masses found previously in the region. Coral species richness was also an important variable explaining variation in fish and crustacean assemblages. Coral diversity may serve as an indicator of habitat suitability and variation in available niche diversity for these taxonomic groups. Our surveys added 24 putative coral species and three fishes to the known regional fauna, including the black coral Telopathes magna, the octocoral Metallogorgia melanotrichos and the fishes Gaidropsarus argentatus, Guttigadus latifrons, and Lepidion guentheri. Marine litter was observed on 81% of the dives, with at least 12 coral colonies entangled in debris. While initial exploration revealed the NEUS region to be both geologically dynamic and biologically diverse, further research into the abiotic conditions and the biotic interactions that influence species abundance and distribution is needed.
  • Article
    Seabed fluid expulsion along the upper slope and outer shelf of the U.S. Atlantic continental margin
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2014-01-08) Brothers, Daniel S. ; Ruppel, Carolyn D. ; Kluesner, Jared W. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Chaytor, Jason D. ; Hill, Jenna C. ; Andrews, Brian D. ; Flores, Claudia H.
    Identifying the spatial distribution of seabed fluid expulsion features is crucial for understanding the substrate plumbing system of any continental margin. A 1100 km stretch of the U.S. Atlantic margin contains more than 5000 pockmarks at water depths of 120 m (shelf edge) to 700 m (upper slope), mostly updip of the contemporary gas hydrate stability zone (GHSZ). Advanced attribute analyses of high-resolution multichannel seismic reflection data reveal gas-charged sediment and probable fluid chimneys beneath pockmark fields. A series of enhanced reflectors, inferred to represent hydrate-bearing sediments, occur within the GHSZ. Differential sediment loading at the shelf edge and warming-induced gas hydrate dissociation along the upper slope are the proposed mechanisms that led to transient changes in substrate pore fluid overpressure, vertical fluid/gas migration, and pockmark formation.
  • Article
    Late Pleistocene-Holocene age and stratigraphy of the Currituck Slide Complex, U.S. mid-Atlantic continental slope: Implications for landslide triggering
    (Elsevier, 2023-06-16) Chaytor, Jason D. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Baxter, Christopher D.P.
    Considerable effort has been made to link submarine slope failures to changes in local and global-scale environmental conditions, in order to assess landslide hazard probability. Here we provide the first radiocarbon dates of hemipelagic sediment overlying mass transport deposits and inferred failure surfaces of the Currituck Slide Complex (CSC), a prominent landslide scar on the U.S. mid-Atlantic continental slope. The dates, taken from both the upper and lower scars of the complex, constrain the age of the last major failure event to 13,835 and 16,020 years BP. Time correlation of the hemipelagic sediments across the landslide scar and proximal deposit suggests a single failure of both the upper and lower parts of this 160 km3 volume. A higher rate of sediment supply from the periglacial Appalachian Mountains and from glacial melt-water pulses, with an exposed continental shelf at that time, may have enlarged a shelf-edge delta at the site of the CSC, which may have facilitated or triggered failure. A smaller landslide at the southern edge of the complex with a less well-defined geomorphologic footprint is dated at 5500 BP and possibly represents the reshaping of the seafloor around the CSC triggered by low-frequency earthquakes on the nearby continental margin.