Upper-crustal structure beneath the strait of Georgia, Southwest British Columbia

Geophysical Journal International
By: , and 



We present a new three-dimensional (3-D) P-wave velocity model for the upper-crustal structure beneath the Strait of Georgia, southwestern British Columbia based on non-linear tomographic inversion of wide-angle seismic refraction data. Our study, part of the Georgia Basin Geohazards Initiative (GBGI) is primarily aimed at mapping the depth of the Cenozoic sedimentary basin and delineating the near-surface crustal faults associated with recent seismic activities (e.g. M = 4.6 in 1997 and M = 5.0 in 1975) in the region. Joint inversion of first-arrival traveltimes from the 1998 Seismic Hazards Investigation in Puget Sound (SHIPS) and the 2002 Georgia Basin experiment provides a high-resolution velocity model of the subsurface to a depth of ∼7 km. In the southcentral Georgia Basin, sedimentary rocks of the Cretaceous Nanaimo Group and early Tertiary rocks have seismic velocities between 3.0 and 5.5 km s−1. The basin thickness increases from north to south with a maximum thickness of 7 (±1) km (depth to velocities of 5.5 km s−1) at the southeast end of the strait. The underlying basement rocks, probably representing the Wrangellia terrane, have velocities of 5.5–6.5 km s−1 with considerable lateral variation. Our tomographic model reveals that the Strait of Georgia is underlain by a fault-bounded block within the central Georgia Basin. It also shows a correlation between microearthquakes and areas of rapid change in basin thickness. The 1997/1975 earthquakes are located near a northeast-trending hinge line where the thicknesses of sedimentary rocks increase rapidly to the southeast. Given its association with instrumentally recorded, moderate sized earthquakes, we infer that the hinge region is cored by an active fault that we informally name the Gabriola Island fault. A northwest-trending, southwest dipping velocity discontinuity along the eastern side of Vancouver Island correlates spatially with the surface expression of the Outer Island fault. The Outer Island fault as mapped in our seismic tomography model is a thrust fault that projects directly into the Lummi Island fault, suggesting that they are related structures forming a fault system that is continuous for nearly 90 km. Together, these inferred thrust faults may account for at least a portion of the basement uplift at the San Juan Islands.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Upper-crustal structure beneath the strait of Georgia, Southwest British Columbia
Series title Geophysical Journal International
DOI 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03455.x
Volume 170
Issue 2
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher Oxford Academic
Description 13 p.
First page 800
Last page 812
Country Canada
Other Geospatial British Columbia
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