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Geological Sciences

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Automatically detected and located tremor epicenters from episodic tremor and slip (ETS) episodes in northern Cascadia provide a high-resolution map of Washington’s slow slip region. Thousands of epicenters from the past four ETS events from 2004 to 2008 provide detailed map-view constraints that correlate with geodetic estimates of the simultaneous slow slip. Each of these ETS events exhibits remarkable similarity in the timing and geographic distribution of tremor density and geodetically inferred slip. Analysis of the latest 15-month inter-ETS period also reveals ageodetic tremor activity similar both in duration and extent to ETS tremor. Epicenters from both ETS and inter- ETS tremor are bounded between the 30- and 45-km plate interface depth contours and locate approximately 75 km east of previous estimates of the locked portion of the subducting Juan de Fuca plate. Inter-ETS tremor overlaps but is generally downdip of ETS tremor and does not yet correlate with geodetically observed slip, but this is likely because the slip is below current GPS detection levels. Based on the tremor and slip correlation and the tremor-duration and slip magnitude relationship, we suggest that the well-resolved, sharp updip edge of tremor epicenters reflects a change in plate interface coupling properties. The region updip of this boundary may accumulate stress with the potential for coseismic shear failure during a megathrust earthquake. Alternatively, plate convergence in this region could be accommodated by continuous slow slip with no detectable tremor or by slow slip events with sufficiently long recurrence intervals that none have been detected during the past 10 years of GPS observations.


Journal of Geophysical Research


Copyright © 2009 the American Geophysical Union

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