Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Earth and Ocean Sciences


Geological Sciences

First Advisor

James H. Knapp


The Middleton Place Summerville Seismic Zone (MPSSZ) near Summerville, South Carolina was the site of renewed extensive investigation, beginning in the 1970’s, for the source of the 1886 Charleston earthquake. Reactivation of faults associated with a putative fault-bounded Triassic rift basin through analysis of seismic reflection, seismic refraction, and well data has since become the favored interpretation for the source of MPSSZ seismicity. Critical to this interpretation is the association of continental redbed sedimentary rocks in Triassic basins throughout the North American Atlantic margin. Reanalysis of 18 seismic reflection profiles and 25 seismic refraction profiles within the MPSSZ suggests that the red beds found here are a thin, sub-horizontal, regionally extensive, generally unbroken subsurface stratigraphic sequence distinct from the sedimentary architecture observed in analog Triassic rift systems. In addition, this sequence appears to unconformably overly a structural depression (the Jedberg basin) previously interpreted as a Triassic rift basin in the vicinity of the MPSSZ. In addition to the geometries observed on seismic reflection profiles, seismic refraction velocities ranging from 4.2 to 6.1 km/s can be correlated with (1) Jurassic basalt flows, (2) the newly proposed Summerville Formation, and (3) the Basement (B) sequences, respectively. The current study maps the Summerville redbed section and its bounding reflectors. In addition to mapping the regional extent of the newly proposed Summerville Formation, refraction velocities and changes in reflection character, the lateral extent of the basalt flows is interpreted as a more localized flow rather than a regionally extensive flow as previously thought. Reanalysis of data in the MPSSZ suggests that the area may not be part of the Triassic South Georgia Rift system due to the sub-horizontal geometry of the red bed reflections, the apparent lack of faulting, and their regional extent.

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