In late 1994, sand dykes, large sand blows, and deformed strata were exposed in the walls of an excavation at Annacis Island on the Fraser River delta near Vancouver, British Columbia. The features record liquefaction during a large earthquake about 1700 years ago; this was perhaps the largest earthquake to affect the Vancouver area in the last 3500 years. Similar, less well-dated features have been reported from several other sites on the Fraser delta and may be products of the same earthquake. Three radiocarbon ages that closely delimit the time of liquefaction on Annacis Island are similar to the most precise radiocarbon ages on coseismically subsided marsh soils at estuaries in southern Washington and Oregon. Both the liquefaction and the subsidence may have been produced by a single great plate-boundary earthquake at the Cascadia subduction zone. Alternatively, liquefaction at Annacis Island may have been caused by a large crustal or subcrustal earthquake of about the same age as a plate-boundary earthquake farther west. The data from Annacis Island and other sites on the Fraser delta suggest that earthquakes capable of producing extensive liquefaction in this area are rare events. Further, liquefaction analysis using historical seismicity suggests that current assessment procedures may overestimate liquefaction risk.
Additional Publication Details
Age and significance of earthquake-induced liquefaction near Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada