A 9000-year flood history for Southern California: A revised stratigraphy of varved sediments in Santa Barbara Basin

Xiaojing Du, Ingrid Hendy, Arndt Schimmelmann

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17 Scopus citations


The center of Santa Barbara Basin (SBB) preserves annual laminations through most of the Holocene providing an important locality for high-resolution late Quaternary paleoclimate and paleoceanography reconstructions. An accurate chronology is necessary for these sediment-based records and enables comparisons with more distal data time-series of similar quality. Here we present an improved high-resolution radiocarbon chronology for the last 9000 yrs. based on 89 accelerator mass spectrometric (AMS) 14C dates of mixed planktonic foraminiferal carbonate from three sediment cores collected in SBB (MV0811-14JC, SPR0901-06KC and ODP Hole 893A). Accurate core-to-core correlation is demonstrated using prominent gray flood and olive turbidite layers identified in SBB and dated in multiple cores. Gray layer deposits were found more frequently in wetter intervals as determined by multi-proxy hydroclimate records in Southern California (e.g., lake deposits and tree rings). Mass accumulation rates (MARs) calculated for the SBB depocenter using the improved radiocarbon age model indicate high MARs are associated with these gray layers that have been associated with floods. Thus sediment accumulation in SBB is largely controlled by sediment delivery via river runoff following precipitation events although MARs may also be influenced by other factors that enhance erosion in river catchments. Folded sediment is observed within the basal core section of MV0811-14JC which stratigraphically correlates with 14C age reversals in ODP Hole 893A. We associate this sediment slump feature with the large Goleta submarine slide complex in Santa Barbara Channel and estimate the submarine slide event occurred at ~ 9000 ± 200 yrs. BP. Furthermore, small olive turbidite layers identified and dated in SBB can be temporally linked with large earthquakes along San Andreas Fault and can therefore potentially reconstruct earthquake history in Southern California.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-42
Number of pages14
JournalMarine Geology
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number OCE-1304327 (I.H.) and OCE-0752068 (A.S.). We gratefully acknowledge the captain and crew of the R/V Melville, and Co-Chiefs Richard Behl and James Kennett for collection of the core MV0811-14JC. We would like to thank John Southon at the Keck Carbon Cycle Accelerator Mass Spectrometer University of California Irvine for assisting in 14 C dating. We acknowledge Tiffany J. Napier and Yi Wang for their aid in sample preparation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Earthquake
  • Flood event
  • Radiocarbon chronology
  • Sedimentation rate
  • Turbidity

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • SBB


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