The Role of the Ocean Observatories Initiative in Monitoring the Offshore Earthquake Activity of the Cascadia Subduction Zone

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Geological and historical data indicate that the Cascadia subduction zone last ruptured in a major earthquake in 1700. The timing of the next event is currently impossible to predict, but recent studies of several large subduction zone earthquakes provide tantalizing hints of precursory activity. The seismometers at the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Slope Base and Southern Hydrate Ridge nodes are well placed to provide new insights into interplate coupling because they are located over a segment of the subduction zone that is nominally locked but that has been relatively active for more than a decade. Since their installation in 2014, 18 earthquakes with magnitudes up to 3.8 have been located by the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network between 44°N and 45°N in the region of the plate boundary thought to be accumulating strain. The OOI seismometers have also detected events that were not reported by the onshore seismic network. Noting that OOI data are available in real time, which is a necessary criterion for routine earthquake monitoring, and that the OOI seismometers generally have lower noise levels than campaign-style ocean bottom seismometers, there would be significant benefit to adding seismometers to existing nodes that are not yet instrumented with seismometers.

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Oceanography, v. 31, issue 1, p. 104-113