Widespread Very Low Frequency Earthquakes (VLFEs) Activity Offshore Cascadia

TitleWidespread Very Low Frequency Earthquakes (VLFEs) Activity Offshore Cascadia
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsChaudhuri, K, Ghosh, A
JournalGeophysical Research Letters

A significant amount of stress in the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) is released by different forms of slow earthquakes including tremors, low-frequency earthquakes, and very low-frequency earthquakes (VLFEs)—all occurring onshore at the deeper part of the transition zone. Their activity offshore, however, remains elusive. We discover widespread occurrence of discrete VLFEs offshore Cascadia using ocean-bottom seismometers. Barring occasional regular fast earthquakes, VLFEs are the only seismic stress indicators offshore. Using centroid moment tensor inversion and matched filtering, we detect sequences of 12 distinct families of VLFEs. The VLFEs in northern CSZ have focal mechanisms consistent with the area's subduction zone deformation. Interestingly, the VLFEs in the southern part of CSZ show strike-slip faulting, attributed to offshore faults, sediment consolidation, subduction bending, and transpressional regimes created by complex plate tectonics. It challenges a canonical view of the seismogenic zone in Cascadia characterized by a frictionally homogeneous fault segment producing only regular fast earthquakes.


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