Abstract

This article examines rupture processes of the 28 October 2012 Mw 7.8 Haida Gwaii earthquake off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, using an empirical Green’s function (EGF) technique. The Haida Gwaii earthquake was the largest event along the Canadian portion of the Pacific–North American plate boundary since the Ms 8.1 Queen Charlotte earthquake of 1949. It occurred along a potentially blind thrust fault dipping gently to the northeast rather than the main, subvertical Queen Charlotte fault. Surface waveforms from a 2001 Mw 6.3 event, located only 15 km from the 2012 epicenter and with similar mechanism, are used as an EGF and deconvolved from those of the 2012 mainshock. The resulting source time functions contain minimal path effects, focal mechanism effects, and instrument response, so the waveforms display only properties of the 2012 mainshock rupture itself. By examining azimuthal variations in these source time functions, we constrain parameters such as average rupture velocity, extent, and directivity. In addition, information is obtained about the possible existence of major subevents and their relative locations. Results indicate two subevents within this rupture, the first 12 km south and updip of the epicenter and the second approximately 28 km from the first along a heading parallel to the Queen Charlotte terrace (∼323°). Overall, the rupture front propagated roughly 50 km at an azimuth of 308.5°. This evidence for directivity to the northwest is important, given that earthquakes with strong directivity, such as the 2002 Mw 7.9 Denali earthquake, have been shown to be capable of triggering earthquakes thousands of kilometers away. In this case, we suggest that northwest directivity of this earthquake is responsible for amplification of surface waves observed at seismic stations in Alaska (Gomberg, 2013) and may provide a potential link between this 2012 event and the 2013 Craig, Alaska, earthquake.

Online Material: Figure of all relative source time functions used in directivity analysis.

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