Southwestern British Columbia and northwestern Washington State are subject to megathrust earthquakes, deep intraslab events, and earthquakes in the continental crust. Of the three types of earthquakes, the most poorly understood are the crustal events. Despite a high level of seismicity, there is no obvious correlation between the historical crustal earthquakes and the mapped surface faults of the region. On 24 June 1997, a ML = 4.6 earthquake occurred 3–4 km beneath the Strait of Georgia, 30 km to the west of Vancouver, British Columbia. This well-recorded earthquake was preceded by 11 days by a felt foreshock (ML = 3.4) and was followed by numerous small aftershocks. This earthquake sequence occurred in one of the few regions of persistent shallow seismic activity in southwestern British Columbia, thus providing an ideal opportunity to attempt to characterize an active near-surface fault. We have computed focal mechanisms and utilized a waveform cross-correlation and joint hypocentral determination routine to obtain accurate relative hypocenters of the mainshock, foreshock, and 53 small aftershocks in an attempt to image the active fault and the extent of rupture associated with this earthquake sequence. Both P-nodal and CMT focal mechanisms show thrust faulting for the mainshock and the foreshock. The relocated hypocenters delineate a north-dipping plane at 2–4 km depth, dipping at 53°, in good agreement with the focal mechanism nodal plane dipping to the north at 47°. The rupture area is estimated to be a 1.3-km-diameter circular area, comparable to that estimated using a Brune rupture model with the estimated seismic moment of 3.17 × 1015 N m and the stress drop of 45 bars. The temporal sequence indicates a downdip migration of the seismicity along the fault plane. The results of this study provide the first unambiguous evidence for the orientation and sense of motion for active faulting in the Georgia Strait area of British Columbia.

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