On 6 April 1992, a magnitude 6.8 (MS) earthquake occurred in the triple-junction region at the northern end of the Cascadia subduction zone. This was the largest earthquake in at least 75 yr to occur along the 110-km-long Revere-Dellwood-Wilson (RDW) transform fault and the first large earthquake in this region recorded by modern broadband digital seismic networks. It thus provides an opportunity to examine the rupture process along a young (<2 Ma) oceanic transform fault and to gain better insight into the tectonics of this triple-junction region. We have investigated the source parameters and the rupture process of this earthquake by modeling broadband body waves and long-period surface waves and by accurately locating the mainshock and the first 10 days of aftershocks using a well-located “calibration” event recorded during an ocean-bottom seismometer survey. Analysis of P and SH waveforms reveals that this was a complex rupture sequence consisting of three strike-slip subevents in 12 sec. The initial rupture occurred 5 to 6 km to the SW of the seafloor trace of the RDW fault at 50.55° N, 130.46° W. The dominant subevent occurred 2 to 3 sec later and 4.3 km beneath the seafloor trace of the RDW fault, and a third subevent occurred 5 sec later, 18 km to the NNW, suggesting a northwestward propagating rupture. The aftershock sequence extended along a 60- to 70-km-long segment of the RDW fault, with the bulk of the activity concentrated ∼30 to 40 km to the NNW of the epicenter, consistent with this interpretation. The well-constrained mechanism of the initial rupture (strike/dip/slip 339°/90°/−168°) and of the largest aftershock (165°/80°/170°) are rotated 15° to 20° clockwise relative to the seafloor trace of the RDW fault but are parallel to the Pacific/North America relative plate motion vector. In contrast, the mechanisms of the dominant subevent (326°/87°/−172°), and the long-period solution derived from surface waves aligns with the RDW fault. This suggests that small earthquakes (M < 6) in this area occur along faults that are optimally aligned with respect to the regional stress field, whereas large earthquakes, involving tens of kilometers of rupture, activate the RDW fault. For the mainshock, we estimate a seismic moment (from surface waves) of 1.0 × 1026 dyne-cm, a stress drop of 60 bars, and an average slip of 1.2 m. This represents only 21 yr of strain accumulation, implying that there is either a significant amount of aseismic slip along the RDW fault or that much of the strain accumulation manifests itself as deformation within the Dellwood and Winona blocks or along the continental margin.

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