Updated Rupture Model for the M7.8 October 28, 2012, Haida Gwaii Earthquake as Constrained by GPS-Observed Displacements

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Lisa Nykolaishen1, Herb Dragert1,2, Kelin Wang1,2, Thomas S James1,2, Bodo de Lange Boom3, Michael Schmidt1 and Denny Sinnott3, (1)Geological Survey of Canada (Pacific), Natural Resources Canada, Sidney, BC, Canada, (2)University of Victoria, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Victoria, BC, Canada, (3)Canadian Hydrographic Service, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Sidney, BC, Canada
The M7.8 low-angle thrust earthquake off the west coast of southern Haida Gwaii on October 28, 2012, provided Canadian scientists the opportunity to study a local large thrust earthquake and has provided important information towards an improved understanding of geohazards in coastal British Columbia. Most large events along the Pacific-North America boundary in this region have involved strike-slip motion, such as the 1949 M8.1 earthquake on the Queen Charlotte Fault. In contrast along the southern portion of Haida Gwaii, the young (~8 Ma) Pacific plate crust also underthrusts North America and has been viewed as a small-scale analogy of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Initial seismic-based rupture models for this event were improved through inclusion of GPS observed coseismic displacements, which are as large as 115 cm of horizontal motion (SSW) and 30 cm of subsidence. Additional campaign-style GPS surveys have since been repeated by the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) at seven vertical reference benchmarks throughout Haida Gwaii, significantly improving the coverage of coseismic displacement observations in the region. These added offsets were typically calculated by differencing a single occupation before and after the earthquake and preliminary displacement estimates are consistent with previous GPS observations from the Geological Survey of Canada. Addition of the CHS coseismic offset estimates may allow direct inversion of the GPS data to derive a purely GPS-based rupture model.

To date, cumulative postseismic displacements at six sites indicate up to 6 cm of motion, varying in azimuth between SSW and SE. Preliminary postseismic timeseries curve fitting to date has utilized a double exponential function characteristic of mantle relaxation. The current postseismic trends also suggest afterslip on the deeper plate interface beneath central Haida Gwaii along with possible induced aseismic slip on a deeper segment of the Queen Charlotte Fault located offshore of southern Moresby Island. A physical explanation involving afterslip will entail the use of logarithmic functions for curve-fitting and will allow quantitative assessment of the relative importance of the two processes.