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Sea-Floor Sunday #59: January 9, 2010 earthquake and the Eel River submarine canyon

January 10, 2010

This week’s Sea-Floor Sunday image shows the location of yesterday’s (January 9th, 2010) M6.5 earthquake offshore of northern California. I wanted to highlight that the location of this earthquake is almost right on the Eel River submarine canyon.

Here are some increasingly zoomed-in maps of the earthquake epicenter in relation to the sea-floor topography.

basemap credit: GoogleEarth

basemap credit: GoogleEarth

This final map below is from the GeoMapApp tool, which gives a slightly different view of the same data.

basemap credit: GeoMapApp

Although the head of the submarine canyon is not currently connected to the river mouth (was abandoned as sea level rose since the Last Glacial Maximum) but still receives a lot of sediment via reworking of shelf sediments.

When I saw the location I wondered if this event might have triggered a submarine sediment-gravity flow (turbidity current, debris flow, etc.), which is known to occur in this area. The Eel system is relatively well monitored so there might even be some data to address this question — I don’t have time at the moment to do the necessary research, but I will follow up in the coming weeks.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2010 8:05 pm

    Very cool. The Eel river has some cool methane seep communities. I may be up there in a year or so if a certain doctoral position I’m applying for goes through. It will be interesting to note if the earthquake affected the seep communities. Opening new gas/oil conduits or closing others.

  2. January 11, 2010 3:53 pm

    We had one also in the St. Vicent Canyon! Check this out: http://lisbonstructuralgeologist.blogspot.com/2009/12/17-december-2009-earthquake.html

    I like your blog a lot by the way.

  3. January 11, 2010 8:07 pm

    Filipe … nice! You did far more annotation on your image than I did :)
    Thanks for commenting here, now I can add your blog to my list.

  4. January 12, 2010 4:15 am

    Thank you very much for that. As far as I am concern your annotations illustrate perfectly your point (mine is a bit over illustrated!). Anyway congrats again for you excellent blog.

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