We interpret seismic-reflection data, which were collected in Santa Monica Bay using a 70-in3 generator-injector air gun, to show the geologic structure of the continental shelf and slope and of the deep-water, Santa Monica and San Pedro Basins. The goal of this research is to investigate the earthquake hazard posed to urban areas by offshore faults. These data reveal that northwest of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Palos Verdes Fault neither offsets the seafloor nor cuts through an undeformed sediment apron that postdates the last sea level rise. Other evidence indicates that this fault extends northwest beneath the shelf in the deep subsurface. However, other major faults in the study area, such as the Dume and San Pedro Basin Faults, were active recently, as indicated by an arched seafloor and offset shallow sediment. Rocks under the lower continental slope are deformed to differing degrees on opposite sides of Santa Monica Canyon. Northwest of this canyon, the continental slope is underlain by a little-deformed sediment apron; the main structures that deform this apron are two lower-slope anticlines that extend toward Point Dume and are cored by faults showing reverse or thrust separation. Southeast of Santa Monica Canyon, lower-slope rocks are deformed by a complex arrangement of strike-slip, normal, and reverse faults. The San Pedro Escarpment rises abruptly along the southeast side of Santa Monica Canyon. Reverse faults and folds underpinning this escarpment steepen progressively southeastward. Locally they form flower structures and cut downward into basement rocks. These faults merge downward with the San Pedro Basin fault zone, which is nearly vertical and strike slip. The escarpment and its attendant structures diverge from this strike-slip fault zone and extend for 60 km along the margin, separating the continental shelf from the deep-water basins. The deep-water Santa Monica Basin has large extent but is filled with only a thin (less than 1.5-km) section of what are probably post-Miocene rocks and sediment. Extrapolating ages obtained from Ocean Drilling Program site 1015 indicates that this sedimentary cover is Quaternary, possibly no older than 600 ka. Folds and faults along the base of the San Pedro Escarpment began to form during 8–13 ka ago. Refraction-velocity data show that high-velocity rocks, probably the Catalina Schist or Miocene volcanic rocks, underlie the sedimentary section. The San Pedro Basin developed along a strike-slip fault, widens to the southeast, and is deformed by faults having apparent reverse separation and by folds near Redondo Canyon and the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

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