In April and May 1996, a geophysical study of the Cascadia continental margin off Oregon and Washington was conducted aboard the German R/V Sonne. This cooperative experiment by GEOMAR and the USGS acquired wide-angle reflection and refraction seismic data, using ocean-bottom seismometers (OBS) and hydrophones (OBH), and multichannel seismic reflection (MCS) data. The main goal of this experiment was to investigate the internal structure and associated earthquake hazard of the Cascadia subduction zone and to image the downgoing plate. Coincident MCS and wide-angle profiles along two tracks are presented here. The plate boundary has been imaged precisely beneath the wide accretionary wedge close to shore at c13km depth. Thus, the downgoing plate dips more shallowly than previously assumed. The dip of the plate changes from 2?? to 4?? at the eastern boundary of the wedge on the northern profile, whereas approximately 3km of sediment is entering the subduction zone. On the southern profile, where the incoming sedimentary section is about 2.2km thick, the plate dips about 0.5?? to 1.5?? near the deformation front and increases to 3.5?? further landwards. On both profiles, the deformation of the accretionary wedge has produced six ridges on the seafloor, three of which represent active faulting, as indicated by growth folding. The ridges are bordered by landward verging faults which reach as deep as the top of the oceanic basement. Thus, the entire incoming sediment package is being accreted. At least two phases of accretion are evident, and the rocks of the older accretionary phase(s) forms the backstop for the younger phase, which started around 1.5 Ma ago. This documents that the 30 to 50km wide frontal part of the accretionary wedge, which is characterized by landward vergent thrusts, is a Pleistocene feature which was formed in response to the high input of sediment building the fans during glacial periods. Velocities increase quite rapidly within the wedge, both landward and downward. At the toe of the deformation front, velocities are higher than 4.0 km/s, indicating extensive dewatering of deep, oceanic sediment. Further landward, considerable velocity variation is found, which indicates major breaks throughout the accretionary history.
Additional publication details
New seismic images of the cascadia subduction zone from cruise SO 108-ORWELL