Abstract

High-resolution geophysical data across the Catalina Basin, offshore southern California, USA, reveal a complex channel–lobe transition zone (CLTZ) and provide an opportunity to characterize an entire seafloor CLTZ in a tectonically active and confined-basin setting. The seafloor morphology, distribution of depositional and erosional features, and location of depocenters in the CLTZ are controlled by shifting confinement and seafloor gradient related to inherited basement structures, active faults, and basin margins. Below a Holocene hemipelagic drape, the Catalina Basin is dominated by CLTZ and lobe sedimentation from the San Gabriel Channel, with lesser accumulations from local sediment sources limited to basin margins. The San Gabriel Channel is structurally confined as it enters the Catalina Basin and appears unable to avulse; it continues into the basin as a channel that rapidly widens, decreases in relief, and becomes scoured at its margins. A CLTZ is imaged between the confined San Gabriel channel and its terminal lobes deposited > 50 km into the basin. Narrow, apparently disconnected channels with knickpoints occur throughout the proximal and mid-CLTZ and are concentrated near basement highs and basin-bounding Quaternary-active dextral strike-slip faults. A field of small-scale erosional crescent-shaped scours (∼ 100 m length, ∼ 200 m width, up to ∼ 10 m relief across ∼ 30 km2 region) occurs above a partially buried basement high that creates perturbations in seafloor gradient. Likewise, above a buried basement structure that locally increases seafloor gradient (up to 0.4°), the distal CLTZ may contain sediment waves (∼ 2–4 m wave height and ∼ 200–300 m wavelength) that are smaller than many other CLTZ examples. This study of the San Gabriel CLTZ in Catalina Basin provides high-resolution geophysical data coverage of a complete CLTZ and illustrates a tectonically controlled end-member CLTZ from the modern seafloor.

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