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TerraSond to characterize Alaska Fault Zone

March 7, 2016

TerraSond will help characterize Alaska’s Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault system to constrain regional/trans-oceanic earthquakes and tsunami hazards. High-resolution bathymetry will be mapped in Alaska’s Southeast continental shelf and slopes for the U.S. Department of Interior/U.S. Geological Survey.

In order to understand the risk that different areas of the US face for earthquake hazards, we first need to know where the faults are and how they behave. In most cases, we are aware of the existence of a fault only if it has produced an earthquake that we know about from modern seismic instrument recordings or historical written records. An important result of this project will be to remotely image details about the fault system, as well as potentially identify geomorphological features that past earthquakes have left on the earth’s surface.” - Dr. Megan Carr, TerraSond.

Alaska has more large earthquakes than the rest of the United States combined, with more than three-quarters of Alaska’s population living in an area that can experience a magnitude 7 earthquake or greater (USGS, 2016). The Queen Charlotte and Fairweather faults are part of an extensive system that marks the eastern boundary of the Pacific plate and the western boundary of the North American plate. Historically, this strike-slip system has generated high magnitude seismic activity and is credited with four major earthquakes within the last century.