Abstract

High-resolution seismic-reflection data are combined with a variety of other geophysical and geological data to interpret the offshore structure and earthquake hazards of the San Pedro shelf, near Los Angeles, California. Prominent structures investigated include the Wilmington graben, the Palos Verdes fault zone, various faults below the west part of the San Pedro shelf and slope, and the deep-water San Pedro basin. The structure of the Palos Verdes fault zone changes markedly along strike southeastward across the San Pedro shelf and slope. Under the north part of the shelf, this fault zone includes several strands, with the main strand dipping west. Under the slope, the main fault strands exhibit normal separation and mostly dip east. To the southeast near Lasuen Knoll, the Palos Verdes fault zone locally is low angle, but elsewhere near this knoll, the fault dips steeply. Fresh seafloor scarps near Lasuen Knoll indicate recent fault movement. We explain the observed structural variation along the Palos Verdes fault zone as the result of changes in strike and fault geometry along a master right-lateral strike-slip fault at depth. Complicated movement along this deep fault zone is suggested by the possible wave-cut terraces on Lasuen Knoll, which indicate subaerial exposure during the last sea level lowstand and subsequent subsidence of the knoll. Modeling of aeromagnetic data indicates a large magnetic body under the west part of the San Pedro shelf and upper slope. We interpret this body to be thick basalt of probable Miocene age. This basalt mass appears to have affected the pattern of rock deformation, perhaps because the basalt was more competent during deformation than the sedimentary rocks that encased the basalt. West of the Palos Verdes fault zone, other northwest-striking faults deform the outer shelf and slope. Evidence for recent movement along these faults is equivocal, because we lack age dates on deformed or offset sediment.

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