Abstract

Subbottom acoustic profiling in lakes on the Canadian Shield and in the Canadian Cordillera has revealed disruptions in deltaic and lacustrine sediments that can be attributed to large historical earthquakes. The Timiskaming earthquake of 1935 (Magnitude 6.25) and the Vancouver Island earthquake of 1946 (Magnitude 7.2) triggered extensive slumping and flow of postglacial sediments in lakes located within a few tens of kilometres of the epicentres of these events. There is some evidence in one of the surveyed lakes for in situ mobilization of sediment on relatively gentle slopes, with minimal horizontal displacement; this may be a product of liquefaction induced by coseismic shaking or displacements along faults beneath the basin. In another lake, widespread coseismic slumping resuspended large amounts of fine sediment, which then settled out onto the lake floor to produce a texturally anomalous layer. Features similar to those produced by the 1935 and 1946 earthquakes can also result from a variety of nontectonic processes, for example, the collapse of sediment over buried ice blocks, depositional oversteepening of deltas, groundwater sapping, and variations in pore-water pressures due to lake-level fluctuations. Records of sediment disruption in lakes therefore must be interpreted with caution. In general, many lakes in a region should be surveyed and a variety of different features identified before sediment disruptions are attributed to an earthquake.

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