Abstract

Georgia Basin is located within one of the most seismically active and populated areas on Canada’s west coast. Over the last decade, geological investigations have resolved important details concerning the basin’s shallow structure and composition. Yet, until recently, relatively little was known about deeper portions of the basin. In this study, new seismic velocity information is employed to develop a 3-dimensional density model of the basin. Comparison of the calculated gravity response of this model with the observed gravity field validates the velocity model at large scales. At smaller scales, several differences between model and observed gravity fields are recognized. Analysis of these differences and correlation with independent geoscience data provide new insights into the structure and composition of the basin-fill and underlying basement. Specifically, four regions with thick accumulations of unconsolidated Pleistocene and younger sediments, which were not resolved in the velocity model, are identified. Their delineation is particularly important for studies of seismic ground-motion amplification and offshore aggregate assessment. An inconsistency between the published geology and the seismic structure beneath Texada and Lasqueti Islands in the central Strait of Georgia is investigated; however, the available gravity data cannot preferentially validate either the geologic interpretation or the seismic model in this region. We interpret a northwest-trending and relatively linear gradient extending from Savory Island in the north to Boundary Bay in the south as the eastern margin of Wrangellia beneath the basin. Finally, we compare Georgia Basin with the Everett and Seattle basins in the southern Cascadia fore arc. This comparison indicates that while a single mechanism may be controlling present-day basin tectonics and deformation within the fore arc this was not the case for most of the Mesozoic and Tertiary time periods.

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