Seismic evidence for a weakened thick crust at the Beaufort Sea continental margin


The Canadian Beaufort Sea continental margin of northwestern Canada is a Cenozoic convergent margin, potentially representing a rare case of incipient subduction. Here, we produce P- and S-wave seismic velocity models of the crust and the uppermost mantle using recordings from regional earthquakes. Our models reveal a northwest-dipping very low-velocity anomaly within the crust (δV up to −15%) beneath the Romanzof Uplift. We interpret this low-velocity feature to correspond to a weaker and thicker crust due to shortening and stacking of igneous and sedimentary rocks. The co-location of the thickened crust and lack of present-day seismicity indicates that north-south compression is accommodated by slow, aseismic deformation in the narrow margin beneath the Romanzof Uplift or more broadly offshore. Neither interpretation requires nor precludes a subduction initiation process.

Geophysical Research Letters
Dr. Clément Estève

My research interests include seismic tomography, dynamics and evolution of northwestern Canada, seismic hazard assessment, and seismo-tectonics