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Abstract

Multibeam echosounder (MBES) images, 3.5 kHz seismic-reflection profiles and piston cores obtained along the southern Queen Charlotte Fault Zone are used to map and date mass-wasting events at this transform margin – a seismically active boundary that separates the Pacific Plate from the North American Plate. Whereas the upper continental slope adjacent to and east (upslope) of the fault zone offshore of the Haida Gwaii is heavily gullied, few large-sized submarine landslides in this area are observed in the MBES images. However, smaller submarine seafloor slides exist locally in areas where fluid flow appears to be occurring and large seafloor slides have recently been detected at the base of the steep continental slope just above its contact with the abyssal plain on the Queen Charlotte Terrace. In addition, along the subtle slope re-entrant area offshore of the Dixon Entrance shelf bathymetric data suggest that extensive mass wasting has occurred in the vicinity of an active mud volcano venting gas. We surmise that the relative lack of submarine slides along the upper slope in close proximity to the Queen Charlotte Fault Zone may be the result of seismic strengthening (compaction and cohesion) of a sediment-starved shelf and slope through multiple seismic events.

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