The Alaska convergent margin backstop splay fault zone, a potential large tsunami generator between the frontal prism and continental framework

Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems
By: , and 

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Abstract

The giant tsunami that swept the Pacific from Alaska to Antarctica in 1946 was generated along one of three Alaska Trench instrumentally recorded aftershock areas following great and giant earthquakes. Aftershock areas were investigated during the past decade with multibeam bathymetry, ocean bottom seismograph wide‐angle seismic, reprocessed legacy, and new seismic reflection images. Summarized and updated here are previous papers and additional data. Tectonic structures collocated with aftershock area boundaries indicate possible lengths of rupture in future great earthquakes. NE aftershock area boundaries relate to subducted lower plate structures whereas the SW zone upper plate retains Beringian structural relicts. The lower to middle slope transition separating a stronger continental framework rock from a weaker accreted prism occurs along splay fault zones previously interpreted as backstops in seismic images. Damage zones along splay faults are generally 1‐km‐wide dipping typically 21°. Splays form slip paths from the plate interface to the seafloor much shorter than the 3–4° dipping plate interface beneath the frontal prism. Associated seafloor vent structures indicate overpressured fluids at depth. Splay fault dip and its rigid hanging wall impart greater seafloor uplift than the accreted prism per unit of slip making them effective tsunami generators. Backstop splay fault zones (BSFZs) run along the entire Alaska Trench. Beneath the frontal prism, active bend faults add rugosity to the plate interface and km high relief is commonly imaged in reprocessed legacy and new seismic data. The 1946 Unimak great (M8.6) earthquake epicenter is located near the BSFZ.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The Alaska convergent margin backstop splay fault zone, a potential large tsunami generator between the frontal prism and continental framework
Series title Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Geosystems
DOI 10.1029/2019GC008901
Volume 22
Issue 1
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description e2019GC008901, 24 p.
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Pacific Plate
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