Geomorphology, acoustic backscatter, and processes in Santa Monica Bay from multibeam mapping
Santa Monica Bay was mapped in 1996 using a high-resolution multibeam system, providing the first substantial update of the submarine geomorphology since the initial compilation by Shepard and Emery [(1941) Geol. Soc. Amer. Spec. Paper 31]. The multibeam mapping generated not only high-resolution bathymetry, but also coregistered, calibrated acoustic backscatter at 95 kHz. The geomorphology has been subdivided into six provinces; shelf, marginal plateau, submarine canyon, basin slope, apron, and basin. The dimensions, gradients, and backscatter characteristics of each province is described and related to a combination of tectonics, climate, sea level, and sediment supply. Fluctuations of eustatic sea level have had a profound effect on the area; by periodically eroding the surface of Santa Monica plateau, extending the mouth of the Los Angeles River to various locations along the shelf break, and by connecting submarine canyons to rivers. A wetter glacial climate undoubtedly generated more sediment to the rivers that then transported the increased sediment load to the low-stand coastline and canyon heads. The trends of Santa Monica Canyon and several bathymetric highs suggest a complex tectonic stress field that has controlled the various segments. There is no geomorphic evidence to suggest Redondo Canyon is fault controlled. The San Pedro fault can be extended more than 30 km to the northwest by the alignment of a series of bathymetric highs and abrupt changes in direction of channel thalwegs.