Seafloor seismometers monitor northern Cascadia earthquakes
The Mw = 9.0 earthquake of 11 March 2011 at the Japan Trench and its devastating tsunami underscore the importance of understanding seismogenic behavior of subduction faults and realistically estimating the potential size of future earthquakes and tsunamis. For the Cascadia subduction zone (Figure 1a), a critical knowledge gap is the level of microseismicity offshore, especially near the megathrust, needed to better understand the state of the locked zone. In 2010 the first detailed seafloor earthquake monitoring campaign along the northern Cascadia subduction zone recorded nearby earthquakes in the local magnitude (ML) range from possibly around zero to 3.8 (Figures 1b and 1c) and larger earthquakes from outside this region. Preliminary analyses indicate that the network appears to have yielded a fairly complete catalog for events with ML > 1.2. Only a few tens of these events occurred beneath the continental shelf and slope (Figure 1a). The majority of the earthquakes were located along the margin-perpendicular Nootka fault zone. The relatively low seismicity away from the Nootka fault is consistent with a fully locked megathrust. Land-based GPS measurements cannot resolve the question of whether the offshore part of the megathrust seismogenic zone is narrow and fully locked or wider and only partially locked (slowly creeping). If it were only partially locked, the seafloor seismometer data should show many more small earthquakes along the interface than were actually detected.
Provide feedback or get help You are viewing our new enhanced HTML article.
If you can't find a tool you're looking for, please click the link at the top of the page to "Go to old article view". Alternatively, view our Knowledge Base articles for additional help. Your feedback is important to us, so please let us know if you have comments or ideas for improvement.
This work is funded by JAMSTEC, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, GSC, and the U.S. National Science Foundation. The W. M. Keck Foundation funded the development of the WHOI instruments. Ship time and technical support were provided by GSC. Officers, crew, scientists, and technicians on the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully for the SeaJade expedition are also gratefully acknowledged.