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ABSTRACT: Recent Sea Beam Mapping of Ascension-Monterey Submarine Canyon System

H. Gary Greene

Extensive Sea Beam and Bathymetric Swatch Survey System (BS3) data covering the Ascension-Monterey Submarine Canyon system and adjoining areas and canyons were collected offshore central California. Many discovered geomorphological features lead to significant new geologic conclusions about the formation and processes of submarine canyons in general and disclose unique sedimentary and tectonic features of the Ascension-Monterey Canyon system. The highly detailed bathymetric maps constructed from the Sea Beam data indicate that the seafloor topographic pattern is influenced by sedimentary and tectonic processes; both remain active along the central California margin.

Interpretations of MOAA composite maps, final raw Sea Beam bathymetric maps, and three-dimensional physiographic renditions from bathymetric data indicate a diverse and complex geomorphology for the Ascension-Monterey Submarine Canyon system and adjoining region. Five distinct geomorphologic provinces and four well-defined geographic areas are mapped. Canyons cut by faults and canyon walls actively undergoing mass wasting are prominently displayed in the Sea Beam data. Sedimentary processes illustrating canyon channel capture and the formation of extensive mega-sedimentary wave fields where the canyons debouch onto the abyssal plain are spectacularly well defined. This new tool of seafloor mapping is contributing significant data for the geological interpretation of continental margin and seafloor in the world's oceans.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90097©1990 Fifth Circum-Pacific Energy and Mineral Resources Conference, Honolulu, Hawaii, July 29-August 3, 1990