First Advisor

Curt D. Peterson

Term of Graduation

Summer 1994

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Paleoseismology -- Oregon, Subsidences (Earth movements) -- Oregon, Subduction zones -- Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, xi, 251 pages)


The analysis of marsh cores from the tidal zones of the Siuslaw, Umpqua, and Coos River systems on the south-central Oregon coast provides supporting evidence of coseismic subsidence resulting from megathrust earthquakes and reveals the landward extent of the zero-isobase. The analysis is based on lithostratigraphy, paleotidal indicators, microfossil paleotidal indicators, and radiocarbon age. Coseismic activity is further supported by the presence of anomalous thin sand layers present in certain cores. The analysis of diatom assemblages provides evidence of relative sea-level displacement on the order of 1 to 2 m. The historic quiescence of local synclinal structures in the Coos Bay area together with the evidence of prehistoric episodic burial of wetland sequences suggests that the activity of these structures is linked to megathrust releases. The distribution of cores containing non-episodically buried marshes and cores that show episodically buried wetlands within this area suggests that the landward extent of the zero-isobase is between 100 km and 120 km from the trench. The zero-isobase has a minimum width of 10 to 15 km. Radiocarbon dating of selected buried peat sequences yields an estimated recurrence interval on the order of 400 years. The apparent overlapping of the landward margin of both the upperplate deformation zone (fold and/or thrust fault belt) and the landward extent of the zero-isobase is interpreted to represent the landward limit of the locked zone. The earthquake magnitude is estimated to be 8.5 based on an arbitrary rupture length of 200 km and a locked zone width of 105 km. The identification of the zero-isobase on the southcentral Oregon coast is crucial to the prediction of regional coseismic subsidence and tsunami hazards, the testing of megathrust dislocation models, and the estimation of megathrust rupture areas and corresponding earthquake magnitudes in the Cascadia Margin.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL.

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Geology Commons