Abstract

This article examines spatial changes to the local stress field resulting from the 28 October 2012, Mw 7.8 Haida Gwaii earthquake, off the west coast of Moresby Island, British Columbia. This event occurred on a northeast‐dipping, potentially blind‐thrust fault rather than on the subvertical Queen Charlotte fault (QCF) that represents the Pacific–North American plate boundary. This was the largest earthquake along the Canadian portion of this plate boundary since the 1949 Ms 8.1 Queen Charlotte earthquake. The U.S. Geological Survey Coulomb software is used to quantitatively estimate the effect of the mainshock on the background stress field, the known aftershock nodal planes, and the nearby QCF. We use two different mainshock finite‐fault models, both of which are seismologically derived (by Lay et al., 2013, and Hayes, 2013, separately) and subsequently adapted by K. Wang to account for the motion detected at four nearby Global Positioning System stations (see Nykolaishen et al., 2015, for more information). We also use the best‐located set of aftershocks with information provided by a temporary array of ocean‐bottom seismometers. Results indicate an apparent clustering of aftershocks slightly seaward of the main thrust, which is consistent with the modeled zone of promoted normal failure, likely related to extension in the footwall. Using existing models, we found a high number of aftershocks to be consistent with triggering by the mainshock, suggesting that static stress is a dominant control in the months following a large earthquake in this area. Further, we find loading greater than the triggering threshold on the QCF in an area interpreted as a seismic gap. This work improves understanding of the evolving seismic hazard along the Queen Charlotte margin and tests the usefulness of Coulomb modeling in this complex tectonic environment.

Online Material: Figures of focal mechanisms and maximum Coulomb stress change, and table of aftershock moment tensor parameters.

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