Abstract

Geotechnical data, geochronologic data, and high resolution seismic data collected for Woodside's OceanWay Secure Energy LNG project allow an improved understanding of the tectonic and sedimentary processes in Santa Monica Bay and Basin, and identification of geologic hazards.

The proposed facilities are located in a deepwater basin near the collisional transform boundary of the Inner California Continental Borderland (ICB) Province with the Western Transverse Ranges (WTR) Provinces. This area is characterized by complex interactions between blind thrust faults underlying the Los Angeles Basin and strike slip faults related to the northwest motion of the Pacific Plate relative to North America. Active faults and folds crossing the proposed pipeline route present a ground rupture and deformation hazard on the continental slope.

Active sediment transport processes and high sediment accumulation rates are documented on Hueneme submarine fan in Santa Monica Basin (SMB). High-resolution seismic-reflection profiles across Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) borehole 1015 in the basin plain provide a well-dated chronostratigraphic record. Turbidity currents in Santa Monica Basin are sand-dominated, and have increased in sediment volume per event in the latest Holocene. Whilst some turbidites likely result from El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) storm events, others are believed to have been triggered by seismically-induced strong ground motions.

The potential exists for surface folding and fault rupture, seismically induced strong ground motions, and turbidity currents to affect the proposed pipeline within the lifetime of the project. These geohazards will be mitigated through appropriate analyses, risk studies, and engineering design of the OceanWay facilities, allowing safe and secure importation of natural gas to the West Coast of the USA.

Introduction

Proposed LNG developments in deepwater offshore the West Coast of the United States face new challenges, both on technical issues such as facility engineering and from natural geologic processes. Many recent high-profile deepwater developments continue to encounter major geological hazards (geohazards) on an increasing scale worldwide.

Woodside Natural Gas, Inc. (Woodside) proposes to import LNG to Southern California via a Deepwater Terminal in SMB. SMB is one of several basins in the ICB, a tectonically active area along the plate boundary between the Pacific and North American Plates (Figure 1). A 56-km submarine pipeline will bring the gas ashore via a horizontal directional drill borehole at a landfall in the coastal portion of the Los Angeles Basin (Figure 2). Detailed feasibility and siting studies were performed in 2005 and 2006 to assist in the selection of the optimal location of the OceanWay Project. This paper summarizes geohazards identified during the 2006 geophysical and geotechnical surveys.

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