A wider seismogenic zone at Cascadia due to fluid circulation in subducting oceanic crust
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In the Cascadia subduction zone, the extent of the seismogenic portion of the plate interface is poorly resolved by seismicity due to the lack of a large megathrust event during the instrumental record.

Therefore, fault zone temperatures ( approximately 150 to 350 degrees C) are used to estimate the limits of the seismogenic zone. Previous thermal models for the Cascadia margin estimated that 350 degrees C on the plate boundary occurs approximately 40-70 km offshore. In contrast, models of interseismic deformation have been interpreted to indicate a seismogenic zone extending landward of the coastline to the updip edge of a region of episodic tremor and slip (ETS). We examined Cascadia subduction zone temperatures with thermal models that include the effects of fluid circulation in an ocean crust aquifer. Fluid circulation cools the subduction zone and widens the thermally defined seismogenic zone by shifting the 350 degrees C isotherm at the plate boundary approximately 30-55 km landward relative to results from simulations without fluid flow. Our thermal models indicate a 60-80-km-wide transition zone between 350 degrees C on the fault and the updip edge of ETS. Under British Columbia (Canada), Washington, and Oregon (United States), ETS occurs at approximately 410-550 degrees C. The location of the basalt-to-eclogite transition in the subducting crust provides an important constraint on the thermal models because hydrothermal circulation in the ocean crust aquifer produces only small surface heat flux anomalies on this margin with thick sediment in the trench and on the incoming plate.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Brian Cozzens
  • Title: A wider seismogenic zone at Cascadia due to fluid circulation in subducting oceanic crust
  • Event or Publication: Geology
  • Practice Areas: Groundwater Assessment and Remediation
  • Citation: Brian D. Cozzens and Glenn A. Spinelli, A wider seismogenic zone at Cascadia due to fluid circulation in subducting oceanic crust, Geology (Boulder) (August 2012), 40(10):899-902
  • Date: 2012