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Crustal Structure in a Mesozoic Extensional Terrane: The South Georgia Rift and the Epicentral Area of the 1886 Charleston, South Carolina, Earthquake
Buckner, Jesse Conard
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On August 31, 1886 a large scale earthquake occurred in Summerville, S.C. causing severe damage in the coastal city of Charleston. Although intensive geological and geophysical studies have been conducted in the area, uncertainty remains about the details of the event. Recently evidence from seismic reflection profiles have shed light on the tectonic environment of the area. The epicentral area of the 1886 event lies within the South Georgia Rift, a Mesozoic rift terrane. Previous studies have revealed clues to the geologic structure and evolution of this feature. SEISDATA4 is the largest seismic reflection profile recorded in the area. By re-processing the line, information about the tectonic structure of the area was revealed. The early Mesozoic extensional basin that hosted the 1886 earthquake and is host to the modern seismicity recorded in the area, extends several kilometers to the south and west of Charleston, along SEISDATA4. Cenozoic and Mesozoic faults were resolved within the basin and along its northwestern boundary that is distinguished by a strong gradient in the magnetic field. However, the question as to which fault was responsible for the rupture of 1886 still remains. The refraction analysis provides better resolution of the lithology in Lower Mesozoic section. The termination of the strong reflection at the base of the Atlantic Coastal Plain occurs in a section of the profile that shows major disruption of the underlying reflections, and suggests that the termination of a lower Mesozoic basalt flow responsible for the reflection may be related to tectonic deformation.
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