Abstract

The region of the Explorer spreading centre off Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has been studied through a marine geophysical survey. Earthquake epicentres located by three ocean bottom seismometers confirm that the boundary between the Pacific plate and the Explorer plate (the northern extension of the Juan de Fuca plate) at present lies along the Sovanco fracture zone, the Explorer ridge, and the Dellwood Knolls. The epicentres of earthquakes in this area as determined by the onshore seismic network are found to be subject to significant errors. The ocean bottom seismometers also have been used for a detailed seismic refraction line just to the north of the Explorer spreading centre employing explosives and a large airgun as sources. A preliminary analysis of the data indicates a fairly typical crustal structure but a shallow and low velocity mantle near the ridge crest, and illustrates the value of ocean bottom seismometers in oceanic refraction studies. A new geothermal heat flux probe was employed in this study that permitted repeated 'pogostick' penetrations without raising the instrument to the surface. Six profiles with a total of 112 penetrations provided valuable data on the nature of hydrothermal circulation in the oceanic crust. Eleven standard heat probe stations provided some restraints on the poorly known age of the oceanic crust along the margin. Seismic reflection profiles using a 3.5 kHz system, a high resolution pulser profiler, and a large airgun were used as aids in the interpretation of the seismic and heat flow data.

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