The availability of regional earthquake data from the Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network (PNSN), together with active source data from the Seismic Hazards Investigation in Puget Sound (SHIPS) seismic experiments, has allowed us to construct a new high-resolution 3-D, P wave velocity model of the crust to a depth of about 30 km in the central Puget Lowland. In our method, earthquake hypocenters and velocity model are jointly coupled in a fully nonlinear tomographic inversion. Active source data constrain the upper 10-15 km of the model, and earthquakes constrain the deepest portion of the model. A number of sedimentary basins are imaged, including the previously unrecognized Muckleshoot basin, and the previously incompletely defined Possession and Sequim basins. Various features of the shallow crust are imaged in detail and their structural transitions to the mid and lower crust are revealed. These include the Tacoma basin and fault zone, the Seattle basin and fault zone, the Seattle and Port Ludlow velocity highs, the Port Townsend basin, the Kingston Arch, and the Crescent basement, which is arched beneath the Lowland from its surface exposure in the eastern Olympics. Strong lateral velocity gradients, consistent with the existence of previously inferred faults, are observed, bounding the southern Port Townsend basin, the western edge of the Seattle basin beneath Dabob Bay, and portions of the Port Ludlow velocity high and the Tacoma basin. Significant velocity gradients are not observed across the southern Whidbey Island fault, the Lofall fault, or along most of the inferred location of the Hood Canal fault. Using improved earthquake locations resulting from our inversion, we determined focal mechanisms for a number of the best recorded earthquakes in the data set, revealing a complex pattern of deformation dominated by general arc-parallel regional tectonic compression. Most earthquakes occur in the basement rocks inferred to be the lower Tertiary Crescent formation. The sedimentary basins and the eastern part of the Olympic subduction complex are largely devoid of earthquakes. Clear association of hypocenters and focal mechanisms with previously mapped or proposed faults is difficult; however, seismicity, structure, and focal mechanisms associated with the Seattle fault zone suggest a possible high-angle mode of deformation with the north side up. We suggest that this deformation may be driven by isostatic readjustment of the Seattle basin.
Additional publication details
Crustal structure and relocated earthquakes in the Puget Lowland, Washington, from high-resolution seismic tomography