The Dellwood knolls are two small topographic features on the ocean floor off northern Vancouver Island. They have been proposed as a spreading centre connecting the Explorer ridge to the Queen Charlotte fault and the location of a triple junction between the Pacific, American, and Juan de Fuca plate systems.Detailed geophysical surveys and ocean-bottom seismometer deployments confirm that they are the site of active seismicity and recent volcanism. Modelling of the magnetic anomaly field shows that it is almost entirely produced by normally magnetized material, supporting geological evidence that the knolls are probably less than 1 Ma old. Although the two knolls are separated by a narrow valley with some downfaulting, they do not form a clearly linear spreading rift.Assessment of their role in the plate tectonics of the region suggests that spreading at the knolls was initiated around 1 Ma ago in crust now 4.5 Ma old as part of a complex, northwesterly ridge migration process at the northern end of the Explorer ridge. Reconstruction of this process, which involves asymmetric spreading and ridge jumping, provides an explanation for the creation of the associated Paul Revere and Winona ridges.