Seismic velocity model of the crust in the northern Canadian Cordillera from Rayleigh wave dispersion data


Models of the seismic velocity structure of the crust in the seismically active northern Canadian Cordillera remain poorly constrained, despite their importance in the accurate location and characterization of regional earthquakes. On 29 August 2014, a moderate earthquake with magnitude 5.0, which generated high-quality Rayleigh wave data, occurred in the Northwest Territories, Canada, ∼100 km to the east of the Cordilleran Deformation Front. We carefully selected 23 seismic stations that recorded the Rayleigh waves and divided them into 13 groups according to the azimuth angle between the earthquake and the stations; these groups mostly sample the Cordillera. In each group, we measured Rayleigh wave group velocity dispersion, which we inverted for one-dimensional shear-wave velocity models of the crust. We thus obtained 13 models that consistently show low seismic velocities with respect to reference models, with a slow upper and lower crust surrounding a relatively fast mid crustal layer. The average of the 13 models is consistent with receiver function data in the central portion of the Cordillera. Finally, we compared earthquake locations determined by the Geological Survey of Canada using a simple homogenous crust over a mantle half space with those estimated using the new crustal velocity model, and show that estimates can differ by as much as 10 km.

Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences
Dr. Shutian Ma
Research Seismologist

Shutian is an earthquake seismologist interested in earthquake sources and structures.