ten Brink Uri S.

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ten Brink
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Uri 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
    NOAA/West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center response criteria
    (Tsunami Society, 2009) Whitmore, Paul ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Caropolo, Michael ; Huerfano-Moreno, Victor ; Knight, William ; Sammler, William ; Sandrik, Al
    West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WCATWC) response criteria for earthquakes occurring in the Atlantic and Caribbean basins are presented. Initial warning center decisions are based on an earthquake’s location, magnitude, depth, distance from coastal locations, and precomputed threat estimates based on tsunami models computed from similar events. The new criteria will help limit the geographical extent of warnings and advisories to threatened regions, and complement the new operational tsunami product suite. Criteria are set for tsunamis generated by earthquakes, which are by far the main cause of tsunami generation (either directly through sea floor displacement or indirectly by triggering of sub-sea landslides). The new criteria require development of a threat data base which sets warning or advisory zones based on location, magnitude, and pre-computed tsunami models. The models determine coastal tsunami amplitudes based on likely tsunami source parameters for a given event. Based on the computed amplitude, warning and advisory zones are pre-set.
  • Article
    Glacial morphology and depositional sequences of the Antarctic continental shelf
    (Geological Society of America, 1995-07) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Schneider, Christopher
    We propose a simple model for the unusual depositional sequences and morphology of the Antarctic continental shelf. Our model considers the regional stratal geometry and the reversed morphology of the Antarctic continental shelf to be principally the results of time-integrated effects of glacial erosion and sedimentation related to the location of the ice grounding line. The model offers several guidelines for stratigraphic interpretation of the Antarctic shelf and a Northern Hemisphere shelf, both of which were subject to many glacial advances and retreats.
  • 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
    Stress interaction between subduction earthquakes and forearc strike-slip faults : modeling and application to the northern Caribbean plate boundary
    (American Geophysical Union, 2004-12-24) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Lin, Jian
    Strike-slip faults in the forearc region of a subduction zone often present significant seismic hazard because of their proximity to population centers. We explore the interaction between thrust events on the subduction interface and strike-slip faults within the forearc region using three-dimensional models of static Coulomb stress change. Model results reveal that subduction earthquakes with slip vectors subparallel to the trench axis enhance the Coulomb stress on strike-slip faults adjacent to the trench but reduce the stress on faults farther back in the forearc region. In contrast, subduction events with slip vectors perpendicular to the trench axis enhance the Coulomb stress on strike-slip faults farther back in the forearc, while reducing the stress adjacent to the trench. A significant contribution to Coulomb stress increase on strike-slip faults in the back region of the forearc comes from “unclamping” of the fault, i.e., reduction in normal stress due to thrust motion on the subduction interface. We argue that although Coulomb stress changes from individual subduction earthquakes are ephemeral, their cumulative effects on the pattern of lithosphere deformation in the forearc region are significant. We use the Coulomb stress models to explain the contrasting deformation pattern between two adjacent segments of the Caribbean subduction zone. Subduction earthquakes with slip vectors nearly perpendicular to the Caribbean trench axis is dominant in the Hispaniola segment, where the strike-slip faults are more than 60 km inland from the trench. In contrast, subduction slip motion is nearly parallel to the Caribbean trench axis along the Puerto Rico segment, where the strike-slip fault is less than 15 km from the trench. This observed jump from a strike-slip fault close to the trench axis in the Puerto Rico segment to the inland faults in Hispaniola is explained by different distributions of Coulomb stress in the forearc region of the two segments, as a result of the change from the nearly trench parallel slip on the Puerto Rico subduction interface to the more perpendicular subduction slip beneath Hispaniola. The observations and modeling suggest that subduction-induced strike-slip seismic hazard to Puerto Rico may be smaller than previously assumed but the hazard to Hispaniola remains high.
  • Article
    Tsunami hazard along the U.S. Atlantic coast
    (Elsevier B.V., 2009-03-28) ten Brink, Uri S.
    Assessment of natural hazards typically relies on analysis of past occurrences of similar disaster events. Assessment of tsunami hazard to the Atlantic coast of the Unites States poses a scientific challenge because of the paucity of both historical events and pre-historic tsunami evidence. The Atlantic coast of the U.S., also known as the U.S. East Coast, is highly vulnerable to tsunami damage because major population centers and industrial facilities are located near the shoreline at low-lying elevations. This is in comparison with the Pacific coast of the United States where tsunamis are more frequent but the coastal regions are more sparsely populated and the emergent coastline has much more relief. The challenge for scientists is therefore to define and quantify the hazard for these rare events.
  • Article
    Slab tears and intermediate‐depth seismicity
    (American Geophysical Union, 2013-08-12) Meighan, Hallie E. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Pulliam, Jay
    Active tectonic regions where plate boundaries transition from subduction to strike slip can take several forms, such as triple junctions, acute, and obtuse corners. Well‐documented slab tears that are associated with high rates of intermediate‐depth seismicity are considered here: Gibraltar arc, the southern and northern ends of the Lesser Antilles arc, and the northern end of Tonga trench. Seismicity at each of these locations occurs, at times, in the form of swarms or clusters, and various authors have proposed that each marks an active locus of tear propagation. The swarms and clusters start at the top of the slab below the asthenospheric wedge and extend 30–60 km vertically downward within the slab. We propose that these swarms and clusters are generated by fluid‐related embrittlement of mantle rocks. Focal mechanisms of these swarms generally fit the shear motion that is thought to be associated with the tearing process.
  • Book chapter
    Morphology and stratal geometry of the Antarctic continental shelf : insights from models
    (American Geophysical Union, 1995) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Schneider, Christopher ; Johnson, Aaron H.
    Reconstruction of past ice-sheet fluctuations from the stratigraphy of glaciated continental shelves requires understanding of the relationships among the stratal geometry, glacial and marine sedimentary processes, and ice dynamics. We investigate the formation of the morphology and the broad stratal geometry of topsets on the Antarctic continental shelf with numerical models. Our models assume that the stratal geometry and morphology are principally the results of time-integrated effects of glacial erosion and sedimentation related to the location of the seaward edge of the grounded ice. The location of the grounding line varies with time almost randomly across the shelf. With these simple assumptions, the models can successfully mimic salient features of the morphology and the stratal geometry. The models suggest that the current shelf has gradually evolved to its present geometry by many glacial advances and retreats of the grounding line to different locations across the shelf. The locations of the grounding line do not appear to be linearly correlated with either fluctuations in the δ180 record (which presumably represents changes in the global ice volume) or with the global sea-level curve, suggesting that either a more complex relationship exists or local effects dominate. The models suggest that erosion of preglacial sediments is confined to the inner shelf, and erosion decreases and deposition increases toward the shelf edge. Some of the deposited glacial sediments must be derived from continental erosion. The sediments probably undergo extensive transport and reworking obliterating much of the evidence for their original depositional environment. The flexural rigidity and the tectonic subsidence of the underlying lithosphere modify the bathyrnetry of the shelf, but probably have little effect on the stratal geometry. Our models provide several guidelines for the interpretation of unconformities, the nature of preserved topset deposits, and the significance of progradation versus aggradation of shelf sediments.
  • Article
    Historical perspective on seismic hazard to Hispaniola and the northeast Caribbean region
    (American Geophysical Union, 2011-12-29) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Bakun, William H. ; Flores, Claudia H.
    We evaluate the long-term seismic activity of the North-American/Caribbean plate boundary from 500 years of historical earthquake damage reports. The 2010 Haiti earthquakes and other earthquakes were used to derive regional attenuation relationships between earthquake intensity, magnitude, and distance from the reported damage to the epicenter, for Hispaniola and for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The attenuation relationship for Hispaniola earthquakes and northern Lesser Antilles earthquakes is similar to that for California earthquakes, indicating a relatively rapid attenuation of damage intensity with distance. Intensities in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands decrease less rapidly with distance. We use the intensity-magnitude relationships to systematically search for the location and intensity magnitude MI which best fit all the reported damage for historical earthquakes. Many events occurred in the 20th-century along the plate-boundary segment from central Hispaniola to the NW tip of Puerto Rico, but earlier events from this segment were not identified. The remaining plate boundary to the east to Guadeloupe is probably not associated with M > 8 historical subduction-zone earthquakes. The May 2, 1787 earthquake, previously assigned an M 8–8.25, is probably only MI 6.9 and could be located north, west or SW of Puerto Rico. An MI 6.9 earthquake on July 11, 1785 was probably located north or east of the Virgin Islands. We located MI < 8 historical earthquakes on April 5, 1690, February 8, 1843, and October 8, 1974 in the northern Lesser Antilles within the arc. We speculate that the December 2, 1562 (MI 7.7) and May 7, 1842 (MI 7.6) earthquakes ruptured the Septentrional Fault in northern Hispaniola. If so, the recurrence interval on the central Septentrional Fault is ∼300 years, and only 170 years has elapsed since the last event. The recurrence interval of large earthquakes along the Hispaniola subduction segment is likely longer than the historical record. Intra-arc M ≥ 7.0 earthquakes may occur every 75–100 years in the 410-km-long segment between the Virgin Islands and Guadeloupe.
  • Article
    Crustal structure of central Lake Baikal : insights into intracontinental rifting
    (American Geophysical Union, 2002-07-16) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Taylor, Michael H.
    The Cenozoic rift system of Baikal, located in the interior of the largest continental mass on Earth, is thought to represent a potential analog of the early stage of breakup of supercontinents. We present a detailed P wave velocity structure of the crust and sediments beneath the Central Basin, the deepest basin in the Baikal rift system. The structure is characterized by a Moho depth of 39–42.5 km; an 8-km-thick, laterally continuous high-velocity (7.05–7.4 km/s) lower crust, normal upper mantle velocity (8 km/s), a sedimentary section reaching maximum depths of 9 km, and a gradual increase of sediment velocity with depth. We interpret the high-velocity lower crust to be part of the Siberian Platform that was not thinned or altered significantly during rifting. In comparison to published results from the Siberian Platform, Moho under the basin is elevated by <3 km. On the basis of these results we propose that the basin was formed by upper crustal extension, possibly reactivating structures in an ancient fold-and-thrust belt. The extent and location of upper mantle extension are not revealed by our data, and it may be offset from the rift. We believe that the Baikal rift structure is similar in many respects to the Mesozoic Atlantic rift system, the precursor to the formation of the North Atlantic Ocean. We also propose that the Central Baikal rift evolved by episodic fault propagation and basin enlargement, rather than by two-stage rift evolution as is commonly assumed.
  • Article
    Plate interaction in the NE Caribbean subduction zone from continuous GPS observations
    (American Geophysical Union, 2012-05-19) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Lopez-Venegas, Alberto M.
    Kinematic similarities between the Sumatra and Puerto Rico Trenches highlight the potential for a mega-earthquake along the Puerto Rico Trench and the generation of local and trans-Atlantic tsunamis. We used the horizontal components of continuous GPS (cGPS) measurements from 10 sites on NE Caribbean islands to evaluate strain accumulation along the North American (NA) – Caribbean (CA) plate boundary. These sites move westward and slightly northward relative to CA interior at rates ≤2.5 mm/y. Provided this motion originates in the subduction interface, the northward motion suggests little or no trench-perpendicular thrust accumulation and may in fact indicate divergence north of Puerto Rico, where abnormal subsidence, bathymetry, and gravity are observed. The Puerto Rico Trench, thus, appears unable to generate mega-earthquakes, but damaging smaller earthquakes cannot be discounted. The westward motion, characterized by decreasing rate with distance from the trench, is probably due to eastward motion of CA plate impeded at the plate boundary by the Bahamas platform. Two additional cGPS sites in Mona Passage and SW Puerto Rico move to the SW similar to Hispaniola and unlike the other 10 sites. That motion relative to the rest of Puerto Rico may have given rise to seismicity and normal faults in Mona Rift, Mona Passage, and SW Puerto Rico.
  • Article
    A framework for the probabilistic analysis of meteotsunamis
    (Springer, 2014-06-19) Geist, Eric L. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Gove, Matthew
    A probabilistic technique is developed to assess the hazard from meteotsunamis. Meteotsunamis are unusual sea-level events, generated when the speed of an atmospheric pressure or wind disturbance is comparable to the phase speed of long waves in the ocean. A general aggregation equation is proposed for the probabilistic analysis, based on previous frameworks established for both tsunamis and storm surges, incorporating different sources and source parameters of meteotsunamis. Parameterization of atmospheric disturbances and numerical modeling is performed for the computation of maximum meteotsunami wave amplitudes near the coast. A historical record of pressure disturbances is used to establish a continuous analytic distribution of each parameter as well as the overall Poisson rate of occurrence. A demonstration study is presented for the northeast U.S. in which only isolated atmospheric pressure disturbances from squall lines and derechos are considered. For this study, Automated Surface Observing System stations are used to determine the historical parameters of squall lines from 2000 to 2013. The probabilistic equations are implemented using a Monte Carlo scheme, where a synthetic catalog of squall lines is compiled by sampling the parameter distributions. For each entry in the catalog, ocean wave amplitudes are computed using a numerical hydrodynamic model. Aggregation of the results from the Monte Carlo scheme results in a meteotsunami hazard curve that plots the annualized rate of exceedance with respect to maximum event amplitude for a particular location along the coast. Results from using multiple synthetic catalogs, resampled from the parent parameter distributions, yield mean and quantile hazard curves. Further refinements and improvements for probabilistic analysis of meteotsunamis are discussed.
  • Article
    Sediment compaction rates and subsidence in deltaic plains : numerical constraints and stratigraphic influences
    (Blackwell, 2007-01-15) Meckel, T. A. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Williams, S. Jeffress
    Natural sediment compaction in deltaic plains influences subsidence rates and the evolution of deltaic morphology. Determining compaction rates requires detailed knowledge of subsurface geotechnical properties and depositional history, neither of which is often readily available. To overcome this lack of knowledge, we numerically forward model the incremental sedimentation and compaction of stochastically generated stratigraphies with geotechnical properties typical of modern depositional environments in the Mississippi River delta plain. Using a Monte Carlo approach, the range of probable compaction rates for stratigraphies with compacted thicknesses <150 m and accumulation times <20 kyr. varies, but maximum values rarely exceed a few mm yr-1. The fastest compacting stratigraphies are composed primarily of peat and bar sand, whereas the slowest compacting stratigraphies are composed of prodelta mud and natural levee deposits. These results suggest that compaction rates can significantly influence vertical and lateral stratigraphic trends during deltaic evolution.
  • 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
    Numerical characterization of cohesive and non-cohesive 'sediments' under different consolidation states using 3D DEM triaxial experiments
    (MDPI, 2020-10-05) Elyashiv, Hadar ; Bookman, Revital ; Siemann, Lennart ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Huhn, Katrin
    The Discrete Element Method has been widely used to simulate geo-materials due to time and scale limitations met in the field and laboratories. While cohesionless geo-materials were the focus of many previous studies, the deformation of cohesive geo-materials in 3D remained poorly characterized. Here, we aimed to generate a range of numerical ‘sediments’, assess their mechanical response to stress and compare their response with laboratory tests, focusing on differences between the micro- and macro-material properties. We simulated two endmembers—clay (cohesive) and sand (cohesionless). The materials were tested in a 3D triaxial numerical setup, under different simulated burial stresses and consolidation states. Variations in particle contact or individual bond strengths generate first order influence on the stress–strain response, i.e., a different deformation style of the numerical sand or clay. Increased burial depth generates a second order influence, elevating peak shear strength. Loose and dense consolidation states generate a third order influence of the endmember level. The results replicate a range of sediment compositions, empirical behaviors and conditions. We propose a procedure to characterize sediments numerically. The numerical ‘sediments’ can be applied to simulate processes in sediments exhibiting variations in strength due to post-seismic consolidation, bioturbation or variations in sedimentation rates.
  • Article
    Effects of 2010 Hurricane Earl amidst geologic evidence for greater overwash at Anegada, British Virgin Islands
    (Copernicus Publications on behalf of the European Geosciences Union, 2017-03-07) Atwater, Brian F. ; Fuentes, Zamara ; Halley, Robert B. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Tuttle, Maritia P.
    A post-hurricane survey of a Caribbean island affords comparisons with geologic evidence for greater overwash at the same place. This comparison, though of limited application to other places, helps calibrate coastal geology for assessment of earthquake and tsunami potential along the Antilles Subduction Zone. The surveyed island, Anegada, is 120 km south of the Puerto Rico Trench and is near the paths of hurricanes Donna (1960) and Earl (2010), which were at or near category 4 when at closest approach. The survey focused on Earl's geologic effects, related them to the surge from Hurricane Donna, and compared them further with erosional and depositional signs of southward overwash from the Atlantic Ocean that dates to 1200–1450 AD and to 1650–1800 AD. The main finding is that the geologic effects of these earlier events dwarf those of the recent hurricanes. Hurricane Earl's geologic effects at Anegada, observed mainly in 2011, were limited to wrack deposition along many of the island's shores and salt ponds, accretion of small washover (spillover) fans on the south shore, and the suspension and deposition of microbial material from interior salt ponds. Earl's most widespread deposit at Anegada, the microbial detritus, was abundantly juxtaposed with evidence for catastrophic overwash in prior centuries. The microbial detritus formed an extensive coating up to 2 cm thick that extended into breaches in beach-ridge plains of the island's north shore, onto playas that are underlain by a sand-and-shell sheet that extends as much as 1.5 km southward from the north shore, and among southward-strewn limestone boulders pendant to outcrops as much as 1 km inland. Earl's spillover fans also contrast with a sand-and-shell sheet, which was dated previously to 1650–1800, by being limited to the island's south shore and by extending inland a few tens of meters at most. These findings complement those reported in this issue by Michaela Spiske and Robert Halley (Spiske and Halley, 2014), who studied a coral-rubble ridge that lines part of Anegada's north shore. Spiske and Halley attribute the ridge to storms that were larger than Earl. But they contrast the ridge with coral boulders that were scattered hundreds of meters inland by overwash in 1200–1450.
  • 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
    Seismic imaging of deep low-velocity zone beneath the Dead Sea basin and transform fault : implications for strain localization and crustal rigidity
    (American Geophysical Union, 2006-12-23) ten Brink, Uri S. ; Al-Zoubi, Abdallah S. ; Flores, Claudia H. ; Rotstein, Yair ; Qabbani, Isam ; Harder, Steven H. ; Keller, G. Randy
    New seismic observations from the Dead Sea basin (DSB), a large pull-apart basin along the Dead Sea transform (DST) plate boundary, show a low velocity zone extending to a depth of 18 km under the basin. The lower crust and Moho are not perturbed. These observations are incompatible with the current view of mid-crustal strength at low temperatures and with support of the basin's negative load by a rigid elastic plate. Strain softening in the middle crust is invoked to explain the isostatic compensation and the rapid subsidence of the basin during the Pleistocene. Whether the deformation is influenced by the presence of fluids and by a long history of seismic activity on the DST, and what the exact softening mechanism is, remain open questions. The uplift surrounding the DST also appears to be an upper crustal phenomenon but its relationship to a mid-crustal strength minimum is less clear. The shear deformation associated with the transform plate boundary motion appears, on the other hand, to cut throughout the entire crust.
  • Article
    Geomorphic and stratigraphic evidence for an unusual tsunami or storm a few centuries ago at Anegada, British Virgin Islands
    (Springer, 2010-10-26) Atwater, Brian F. ; ten Brink, Uri S. ; Buckley, Mark ; Halley, Robert S. ; Jaffe, Bruce E. ; Lopez-Venegas, Alberto M. ; Reinhardt, Eduard G. ; Tuttle, Maritia P. ; Watt, Steve ; Wei, Yong
    Waters from the Atlantic Ocean washed southward across parts of Anegada, east-northeast of Puerto Rico, during a singular event a few centuries ago. The overwash, after crossing a fringing coral reef and 1.5 km of shallow subtidal flats, cut dozens of breaches through sandy beach ridges, deposited a sheet of sand and shell capped with lime mud, and created inland fields of cobbles and boulders. Most of the breaches extend tens to hundreds of meters perpendicular to a 2-km stretch of Anegada’s windward shore. Remnants of the breached ridges stand 3 m above modern sea level, and ridges seaward of the breaches rise 2.2–3.0 m high. The overwash probably exceeded those heights when cutting the breaches by overtopping and incision of the beach ridges. Much of the sand-and-shell sheet contains pink bioclastic sand that resembles, in grain size and composition, the sand of the breached ridges. This sand extends as much as 1.5 km to the south of the breached ridges. It tapers southward from a maximum thickness of 40 cm, decreases in estimated mean grain size from medium sand to very fine sand, and contains mud laminae in the south. The sand-and-shell sheet also contains mollusks—cerithid gastropods and the bivalve Anomalocardia—and angular limestone granules and pebbles. The mollusk shells and the lime-mud cap were probably derived from a marine pond that occupied much of Anegada’s interior at the time of overwash. The boulders and cobbles, nearly all composed of limestone, form fields that extend many tens of meters generally southward from limestone outcrops as much as 0.8 km from the nearest shore. Soon after the inferred overwash, the marine pond was replaced by hypersaline ponds that produce microbial mats and evaporite crusts. This environmental change, which has yet to be reversed, required restriction of a former inlet or inlets, the location of which was probably on the island’s south (lee) side. The inferred overwash may have caused restriction directly by washing sand into former inlets, or indirectly by reducing the tidal prism or supplying sand to post-overwash currents and waves. The overwash happened after A.D. 1650 if coeval with radiocarbon-dated leaves in the mud cap, and it probably happened before human settlement in the last decades of the 1700s. A prior overwash event is implied by an inland set of breaches. Hypothetically, the overwash in 1650–1800 resulted from the Antilles tsunami of 1690, the transatlantic Lisbon tsunami of 1755, a local tsunami not previously documented, or a storm whose effects exceeded those of Hurricane Donna, which was probably at category 3 as its eye passed 15 km to Anegada’s south in 1960.
  • 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.