Probable Low-Angle Thrust Earthquakes on the Juan de Fuca–North America Plate Boundary

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Cascadia, subduction thrust earthquake, subduction zone, episodic tremor, slip

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In 2004, two clusters of earthquakes occurred in the central part of the Cascadia forearc, which displays several characteristics indicative of along-strike and downdip variations in plate coupling. Moment tensor analysis for the main shock in each cluster indicates that both events, which had magnitudes of 4.9 and 4.8, were compatible with low-angle thrust motion on fault planes dipping 6°–15° to the east, consistent with the plate boundary dip of ∼12°. By tracing rays through a high-resolution two-dimensional crustal velocity model to match arrival times of secondary arrivals (pP and PmP), we estimate that the source depth was 9–11 km for the M4.9 event and 15–17 km for the M4.8 event. We conclude that these earthquakes probably represent seismogenic thrust motion on the nominally locked or transitional part of the Cascadia megathrust, updip of where episodic tremor and slip (ETS) have been documented. Continued high-resolution observations of seismicity and improved crustal models are needed to confirm whether apparent temporal correlations between ETS and continued seismic activity in these clusters indicate stress transfer along the megathrust.

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Geology, v. 36, issue 2, p. 127-130