Abstract

A combined multichannel seismic reflection and refraction survey was carried out in July 1988 to study the Tertiary sedimentary basin architecture and formation and to define the crustal structure and associated plate interactions in the Queen Charlotte Islands region. Simultaneously with the collection of the multichannel reflection data, refractions and wide-angle reflections from the airgun array shots were recorded on single-channel seismographs distributed on land around Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound. For this paper a subset of the resulting data set was chosen to study the crustal structure in Queen Charlotte Sound and the nearby subduction zone.Two-dimensional ray tracing and synthetic seismogram modelling produced a velocity structure model in Queen Charlotte Sound. On a margin-parallel line, Moho depth was modelled at 27 km off southern Moresby Island but only 23 km north of Vancouver Island. Excluding the approximately 5 km of the Tertiary sediments, the crust in the latter area is only about 18 km thick, suggesting substantial crustal thinning in Queen Charlotte Sound. Such thinning of the crust supports an extensional mechanism for the origin of the sedimentary basin. Deep crustal layers with velocities of more than 7 km/s were interpreted in the southern portion of Queen Charlotte Sound and beneath the continental margin. They could represent high-velocity material emplaced in the crust from earlier subduction episodes or mafic intrusion associated with the Tertiary volcanics.Seismic velocities of both sediment and upper crust layers are lower in the southern part of Queen Charlotte Sound than in the region near Moresby Island. Well velocity logs indicate a similar velocity variation. Gravity modelling along the survey line parallel to the margin provides additional constraints on the structure. The data require lower densities in the sediment and upper crust of southern Queen Charlotte Sound. The low-velocity, low-density sediments in the south correspond to high-porosity marine sediments found in wells in that region and contrast with lower porosity nonmarine sediments in wells farther north.

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