Abstract

The Eel River forearc basin, northern California, lies at the southern end of the Cascadia subduction zone and at the leading edge of the migrating Mendocino triple junction. Stratigraphic relationships within the Eel River forearc basin suggest that the current outer-arc high formed between ca. 3 and 2 Ma when the margin switched from a nonaccretionary to an accretionary phase and then uplifted to attain critical taper. Between ca. 2 and 1 Ma, an influx of sedimentation from the ancestral Klamath and Eel River systems increased the width of the northern California margin and caused continued uplift followed by widespread erosion of the western margin of the basin at ca. 1 Ma. In the northeastern part of the forearc basin, localized erosion of the shelf occurred at ca. 500 ka. The arrival of the northward-migrating Mendocino triple junction at ca. 500 ka is documented by uplift, northward tilting, erosion of the margin as much as 20 km north of Cape Mendocino, and reduced deposition within the forearc basin as much as 80 km north of the current position of the triple junction. Terrestrial sediments delivered to the continental margin and eroded sediments near the triple junction largely bypassed the southern part of the basin and were likely deposited in northern areas of the basin or flowed down the Eel Canyon to be deposited within the Gorda Fan.

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