Abstract

New results from Ocean Drilling Program Site 1037 and U.S. Geological Survey high-resolution seismic-reflection profiles confirm the great thickness, fast deposition rate, distant source, and convolute path of turbidites that fill the Escanaba Trough, the rift valley of the southernmost segment of the Gorda Ridge. Accelerator mass spectrometry 14C measurements provide the first direct dating of the Escanaba Trough turbidites, demonstrating an average deposition rate faster than 10 m/k.y. between 32 and 11 ka and as fast as 15 m/k.y. during the oxygen isotope stage 2 lowstand. In the upper 60 m of sediment, the petrology of turbidite sand beds, which are as much as 12 m thick, show that the dominant source for the turbidites is from the Columbia River, which is more than 800 km to the north, rather than from the much closer rivers of northern California. New high-resolution seismic-reflection profiles show that, except for areas of very recent volcanism, the entire Escanaba Trough below 3200 m water depth is floored by the turbidite sequence that was cored in the upper 60 m at Site 1037B. The ages of the upper 120 m of turbidites correspond with the ages of channeled scabland deposits associated with latest Quaternary jokulhlaups from glacial Lake Missoula. The age and source characteristics suggest that these megaturbidite beds in Escanaba Trough are most likely deposits formed by hyperpycnally generated turbidity currents as the largest of the Lake Missoula floods entered the sea.

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