Abstract

Previous knowledge of the structure of the Cascadia subduction zone north of the Canada–United States border has been derived from a variety of geophysical studies that accurately delineated the downgoing Juan de Fuca plate from the offshore deformation front to depths of ~50–60 km beneath south-central Vancouver Island and the Georgia Strait. Little is known, however, of the structure of the Cascadia subduction zone farther westward and to greater depths in the upper mantle. We have assembled a set of some 1100 teleseismic traveltimes from events recorded on the Western Canadian Telemetered Network to augment a previously existing data set recorded on the Washington Regional Seismograph Network. The composite data set is inverted for upper mantle structure below Washington, Oregon, and southwestern British Columbia. We analyze the new northern portion of the model between 48.5–50°N and 118–127°W, which provides the first images of the deep slab structure in this region. The model is parameterized using splines under tension over a dense grid of knots. The nonlinearity of the inverse problem is treated by iteratively performing three-dimensional ray tracing and linear inversion. Resolution tests performed with a synthetic slab model indicate that the deep structure is resolved by the data north to at least 50°N. The inversions are characterized by a quasi-planar, high-velocity body inferred to represent the thermal and compositional anomaly of the subducted Juan de Fuca plate. This body exhibits velocity deviations of up to 3% from the background reference model and extends to depths of at least 400–500 km. The depth contours of the slab in the upper mantle mimic those of the shallow slab by changing strike, in the latitude range 48.0–48.5°N, from north–south in Washington to northwest–southeast in southern British Columbia. This forces the development of two arch-type structures: a main arch observed in previous studies trending east–west over Puget Sound and a possible second arch extending northeasterly from the Georgia Strait into the British Columbia interior. A steepening of the deep slab dip from British Columbia south towards Puget Sound and complexity in the evolution of the arches in depth may be the result of a change in plate motions at 3.5 Ma associated with the detachment of the Explorer plate.

You do not currently have access to this article.