Brothers Daniel S.

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Daniel S.

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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
    Focused fluid flow and methane venting along the Queen Charlotte fault, offshore Alaska (USA) and British Columbia (Canada)
    (Geological Society of America, 2020-11-02) Prouty, Nancy G. ; Brothers, Daniel S. ; Kluesner, Jared W. ; Barrie, J. Vaughn ; Andrews, Brian D. ; Lauer, Rachel M. ; Greene, H. Gary ; Conrad, James E. ; Lorenson, Thomas D. ; Law, Michael D. ; Sahy, Diana ; Conway, Kim ; McGann, Mary L. ; Dartnell, Peter
    Fluid seepage along obliquely deforming plate boundaries can be an important indicator of crustal permeability and influence on fault-zone mechanics and hydrocarbon migration. The ∼850-km-long Queen Charlotte fault (QCF) is the dominant structure along the right-lateral transform boundary that separates the Pacific and North American tectonic plates offshore southeastern Alaska (USA) and western British Columbia (Canada). Indications for fluid seepage along the QCF margin include gas bubbles originating from the seafloor and imaged in the water column, chemosynthetic communities, precipitates of authigenic carbonates, mud volcanoes, and changes in the acoustic character of seismic reflection data. Cold seeps sampled in this study preferentially occur along the crests of ridgelines associated with uplift and folding and between submarine canyons that incise the continental slope strata. With carbonate stable carbon isotope (δ13C) values ranging from −46‰ to −3‰, there is evidence of both microbial and thermal degradation of organic matter of continental-margin sediments along the QCF. Both active and dormant venting on ridge crests indicate that the development of anticlines is a key feature along the QCF that facilitates both trapping and focused fluid flow. Geochemical analyses of methane-derived authigenic carbonates are evidence of fluid seepage along the QCF since the Last Glacial Maximum. These cold seeps sustain vibrant chemosynthetic communities such as clams and bacterial mats, providing further evidence of venting of reduced chemical fluids such as methane and sulfide along the QCF.
  • 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.
  • Article
    Duration and severity of Medieval drought in the Lake Tahoe Basin
    (Elsevier B.V., 2001-09-16) Kleppe, J. A. ; Brothers, Daniel S. ; Kent, Graham M. ; Biondi, F. ; Jensen, S. ; Driscoll, Neal W.
    Droughts in the western U.S. in the past 200 years are small compared to several megadroughts that occurred during Medieval times. We reconstruct duration and magnitude of extreme droughts in the northern Sierra Nevada from hydroclimatic conditions in Fallen Leaf Lake, California. Stands of submerged trees rooted in situ below the lake surface were imaged with sidescan sonar and radiocarbon analysis yields an age estimate of ∼1250 AD. Tree-ring records and submerged paleoshoreline geomorphology suggest a Medieval low-stand of Fallen Leaf Lake lasted more than 220 years. Over eighty more trees were found lying on the lake floor at various elevations above the paleoshoreline. Water-balance calculations suggest annual precipitation was less than 60% normal from late 10th century to early 13th century AD. Hence, the lake’s shoreline dropped 40–60 m below its modern elevation. Stands of pre-Medieval trees in this lake and in Lake Tahoe suggest the region experienced severe drought at least every 650–1150 years during the mid- and late-Holocene. These observations quantify paleo-precipitation and recurrence of prolonged drought in the northern Sierra Nevada.
  • Article
    Deformation of the Pacific/North America plate boundary at Queen Charlotte Fault : the possible role of rheology
    (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-03-30) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Miller, Nathaniel C. ; Andrews, Brian D. ; Brothers, Daniel S. ; Haeussler, Peter J.
    The Pacific/North America (PA/NA) plate boundary between Vancouver Island and Alaska is similar to the PA/NA boundary in California in its kinematic history and the rate and azimuth of current relative motion, yet their deformation styles are distinct. The California plate boundary shows a broad zone of parallel strike slip and thrust faults and folds, whereas the 49‐mm/yr PA/NA relative plate motion in Canada and Alaska is centered on a single, narrow, continuous ~900‐km‐long fault, the Queen Charlotte Fault (QCF). Using gravity analysis, we propose that this plate boundary is centered on the continent/ocean boundary (COB), an unusual location for continental transform faults because plate boundaries typically localize within the continental lithosphere, which is weaker. Because the COB is a boundary between materials of contrasting elastic properties, once a fault is established there, it will probably remain stable. We propose that deformation progressively shifted to the COB in the wake of Yakutat terrane's northward motion along the margin. Minor convergence across the plate boundary is probably accommodated by fault reactivation on Pacific crust and by an eastward dipping QCF. Underthrusting of Pacific slab under Haida Gwaii occurs at convergence angles >14°–15° and may have been responsible for the emergence of the archipelago. The calculated slab entry dip (5°–8°) suggests that the slab probably does not extend into the asthenosphere. The PA/NA plate boundary at the QCF can serve as a structurally simple site to investigate the impact of rheology and composition on crustal deformation and the initiation of slab underthrusting.
  • 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
    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
    Farallon slab detachment and deformation of the Magdalena Shelf, southern Baja California
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-05-08) Brothers, Daniel S. ; Harding, Alistair J. ; Gonzalez-Fernandez, Antonio ; Holbrook, W. Steven ; Kent, Graham M. ; Driscoll, Neal W. ; Fletcher, John M. ; Lizarralde, Daniel ; Umhoefer, Paul J. ; Axen, Gary J.
    Subduction of the Farallon plate beneath northwestern Mexico stalled by ~12 Ma when the Pacific-Farallon spreading-ridge approached the subduction zone. Coupling between remnant slab and the overriding North American plate played an important role in the capture of the Baja California (BC) microplate by the Pacific Plate. Active-source seismic reflection and wide-angle seismic refraction profiles across southwestern BC (~24.5°N) are used to image the extent of remnant slab and study its impact on the overriding plate. We infer that the hot, buoyant slab detached ~40 km landward of the fossil trench. Isostatic rebound following slab detachment uplifted the margin and exposed the Magdalena Shelf to wave-base erosion. Subsequent cooling, subsidence and transtensional opening along the shelf (starting ~8 Ma) starved the fossil trench of terrigenous sediment input. Slab detachment and the resultant rebound of the margin provide a mechanism for rapid uplift and exhumation of forearc subduction complexes.