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Pacific Northwest Geologic Mapping and Urban Hazards

 

Current research

A three-dimensional view of the Seattle Basin

Variations in gravitational attraction in central Puget Sound

Estimating 3-D shapes of Puget Sound basins

Thickness of sedimentary rocks on top of volcanic basement

3D views of the Seattle basin

Keys to the evolution of the Seattle basin
green line

 

How the jello-shakes depends on the shape of the bowl: a three-dimensional view of the Seattle Basin

R.J. Blakely, Brocher, T.M, and R.E. Wells

The Puget Sound is lined with a string of deep sediment-filled basins that will influence groundshaking during a large earthquake. Understanding the shapes of the basins is important to assessing the earthquake hazard potential of the region.

 

XXX Variations in gravitational attraction in central Puget Sound

The map on the left (Click on any image to enlarge) shows variations in gravitational attraction in central Puget Sound. The big, bright blue "anomalies" are caused by low-density sediments that fill deep basins. The white-dotted lines are important crustal faults.

 

XXX Estimating the three-dimensional shapes of Puget Sound basins

We used these anomalies to estimate the three-dimensional shapes of the basins. This technique works by separating observed gravity into two parts: that caused by the basins and that caused by volcanic rocks beneath the basins. The method "inverts" the first of these quantities to find a shape for the basin, one that also honors seismic data and deep well information.

 

XXX Thickness of sedimentary rocks on top of volcanic basement

The map on the left (Sediment Thickness) shows the estimated thickness of sedimentary rocks on top of volcanic basement. It is based on gravity measurements, seismic reflection data, and a few deep wells. Note the huge basins at Everett and Seattle. They are deep, isolated from each other, and have relatively steep margins. The basins are obviously related to important crustal faults (white-dotted lines).

 

XXX 3D views of the Seattle basin

The images at left and below show 3D views of the Seattle basin, the largest of the Puget Sound basins. The City of Seattle lies on its southern lip. XXX It is approximately 60 km wide in the east-west direction, 30 km across in the north-south direction, and more than 9 km deep at its deepest point. The basin was formed by motions on various faults in the area, especially the Seattle fault that lies along its entire southern margin.

 

XXX Small features in the gravity analysis are proving interesting keys to the evolution of the Seattle basin

The maps above compare the shape of the Seattle basin with the seismic velocity of the sediments that fill it. We see, for example, a particularly deep hole in the middle of Seattle basin that we think might indicate the shape of the basin when it first began to form. One possibility is illustrated on the right-hand pair of maps: Perhaps two strike-slip faults existed during the early stages of the formation of Seattle basin, and a rectangular-shaped sub-basin developed where the two faults overlap.


The information provided on this page was originally presented as a poster at the Great Cascadia Earthquake Tricentennial Open House, January 26, 2000, Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle WA

Authors: Richard J. Blakely (blakely@usgs.gov), Thomas M. Brocher, Ray E. Wells U.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025

This site is maintained by the Pacific Northwest Urban Corridor Geologic Mapping Project, part of the Geology, Minerals, Energy and Geophysics Science Center

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