Abstract

A temporary array of land and ocean bottom seismograph stations was used to accurately locate microearthquakes on the Queen Charlotte fault zone, which occurs along the continental margin of western Canada. The continental slope has two steep linear sections separated by a 25 km wide irregular terrace at a depth of 2 km. Eleven events were located with magnitudes from 0.5 to 2.0, 10 of them beneath the landward one of the two steep slopes, some 5 km off the coast of the southern Queen Charlotte Islands. No events were located beneath the seaward and deeper steep slope. The depths of seven of these events were constrained by the data to between 9 and 21 km with most near 20 km. The earthquake and other geophysical data are consistent with a near vertical fault zone having mainly strike-slip motion. A model including a small component of underthrusting in addition to strike-slip faulting is suggested to account for the some 15° difference between the relative motion of the North America and Pacific plates from plate tectonic models and the strike of the margin. One event was located about 50 km inland of the main active zone and probably occurred on the Sandspit fault. The rate of seismicity on the Queen Charlotte fault zone during the period of the survey was similar to that predicted by the recurrence relation for the region from the long-term earthquake record.

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