As a result of the October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta (Santa Cruz Mountains, California) earthquake, liquefaction of the fluvial, estuarine, eolian, and beach sediments under a sand spit destroyed the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and damaged other structures and utilities. Initial studies suggested that the liquefaction was a local phenomenon. More detailed offshore investigations, however, indicate that it occurred over a large area (max. 8 km2) during or shortly after the earthquake with movement of unconsolidated sediment toward and into the head of Monterey submarine canyon. This conclusion is supported by side-scan sonographs, high-resolution seismic-reflection and bathymetric profiles, onshore and sea-floor photographs, and underwater video tapes. Many distinct lobate features were identified on the shallow shelf. These features almost certainly were the result of the October 17 earthquake; they were subsequently destroyed by winter storms. In addition, fresh slump scars and recently dislodged mud debris were found on the upper, southern wall of Monterey submarine canyon.

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