Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Cataloging tectonic tremor energy radiation in the Cascadia subduction zone

September 23, 2021

For the past ∼12 years the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network has been automatically detecting and locating tectonic tremor across the Cascadia subduction zone, resulting in a catalog of more than 500,000 tremor epicenters to date, which has served as a valuable resource for tremor and slip research. This manuscript presents an updated methodology for routine tremor detection in Cascadia and a new catalog of over 180,000 tremor epicenters including amplitudes detected along the subduction zone margin from 2017 to 2021. The events are detected via cross-correlation of continuous vertical envelope data of 128 stations from northern California to northern Vancouver Island. The modified approach results in less scatter and a 55% increase in detected epicenters than previously observed, as well as a newly identified tremor source offset updip from the main tremor and slip region at the southern edge of the subduction zone. Radiated seismic energy in the 1.5–5 Hz band is used to assign epicenters an energy magnitude (MeL), which is calibrated to the ML of local earthquakes. Southern Cascadia is most active, but the highest tremor energy rates occur in northern Cascadia. Tremor in central Cascadia is systematically weaker and less frequent. Individual epicenter magnitudes range from ∼0.5–2 and spatiotemporally cluster into 1,060 swarms with cumulative MeL ranging from ∼0.8 to 3.7. The swarms reflect underlying slow slip events and occur with an earthquake-like energy distribution with a b value ∼1. Tremor epicenters, however, follow a tapered Gutenberg-Richter distribution with high b values, suggesting individual tremor bursts and their constituent low-frequency earthquakes are fault-dimension limited.

Publication Year 2021
Title Cataloging tectonic tremor energy radiation in the Cascadia subduction zone
DOI 10.1029/2021JB022523
Authors Aaron Wech
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Index ID 70228628
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center