This paper presents the first regional three-dimensional, P wave velocity model for the Northern Cascadia Subduction. Zone (SW British Columbia and NW Washington State) constructed through tomographic inversion of first-arrival traveltime data from active source experiments together with earthquake traveltime data recorded at permanent stations. The velocity model images the structure of the subducting Juan de Fuca plate, megathrust, and the fore-arc crust and upper mantle. Beneath southern Vancouver Island the megathrust above the Juan de Fuca plate is characterized by a broad zone (25-35 km depth) having relatively low velocities of 6.4-6.6 km/s. This relative low velocity zone coincides with the location of most of the episodic tremors recently mapped beneath Vancouver Island, and its low velocity may also partially reflect the presence of trapped fluids and sheared lower crustal rocks. The rocks of the Olympic Subduction Complex are inferred to deform aseismically as evidenced by the lack of earthquakes withi the low-velocity rocks. The fore-arc upper mantle beneath the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound is characterized by velocities of 7.2-7.6 km/s. Such low velocities represent regional serpentinization of the upper fore-arc mantle and provide evidence for slab dewatering and densification. Tertiary sedimentary basins in the Strait of Georgia and Puget Lowland imaged by the velocity model lie above the inferred region of slab dewatering and densification and may therefore partly result from a higher rate of slab sinking. In contrast, sedimentary basins in the Strait of Juan de Fuca lie in a synclinal depression in the Crescent Terrane. The correlation of in-slab earthquake hypocenters M>4 with P wave velocities greater than 7.8 km/s at the hypocenters suggests that they originate near the oceanic Moho of the subducting Juan de Fuca plate. Copyright 2006 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Regional P wave velocity structure of the Northern Cascadia Subduction Zone