Laboratory collaboration to study earthquake hazards off southeast Alaska and western Canada

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Studying the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault

USGS scientists and colleagues from the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), University of Calgary, Sitka Sound Science Center, and U.S. Forest Service spent a week in February at GSC laboratories in British Columbia investigating earthquake hazards posed by the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault. They examined dozens of sediment cores collected during a September 2017 research cruise along the fault, which ruptured in at least six major earthquakes during the past century. GSC personnel have spent months analyzing the sediment cores’ physical properties; the group that met in February extracted nearly 500 sediment samples to be dated using radiocarbon analysis and other methods. Knowing ages of sediment layers will help the scientists analyze recurrence intervals of earthquakes and submarine landslides to better estimate quake and tsunami hazards associated with the fault.

Four scientists stand around a table in a lab with gray sediment core samples on the table, and they are examining the sediment.

(Left to right) Danny Brothers (USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center [PCMSC]), Peter Haeussler (USGS Alaska Science Center), Maureen Walton (PCMSC), and Jamie Conrad (PCMSC) select sediment samples from cores collected from the seafloor along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault. They are working in the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) laboratories in British Columbia.
​​​​​​​Photo by Amy East, USGS

Four people around a table

(Left to right) PCMSC scientists Amy East, Tom Lorenson, Danny Brothers (taking photo with mobile phone), and Maureen Walton select sediment samples from cores collected from the seafloor along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault, in GSC laboratories. Photo by Peter Haeussler, USGS