Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Focused fluid flow along the Nootka Fault Zone and continental slope, Explorer-Juan de Fuca plate boundary

August 7, 2020

Geophysical and geochemical data indicate there is abundant fluid expulsion in the Nootka fault zone (NFZ) between the Juan de Fuca and Explorer plates and the Nootka continental slope. Here we combine observations from > 20 years of investigations to
demonstrate the nature of fluid-flow along the NFZ, which is the seismically most active region off Vancouver Island. Seismicity reaching down to the upper mantle is linked to near-seafloor manifestation of fluid flow through a network of faults. Along the two main fault traces, seismic reflection data imaged bright spots 100 300 m below seafloor that lie above changes inbasement topography. The bright spots are conformable to sediment layering, show opposite-toseafloor reflection polarity, and are associated with frequency-reduction and velocity push-down indicating the presence of gas in the sediments. Two seafloor mounds ~15 km seaward of the Nootka slope are underlain by deep, non-conformable high amplitude reflective zones. Measurements in the water column above one mound revealed a plume of warm water, and bottom-video observations imaged hydrothermal vent system biota. Pore fluids from a core at this mound contain predominately microbial methane (C1) with a high proportion of ethane (C2) yielding C1/C2 ratios < 500 indicating a possible slight contribution from a deep source. We infer the reflective zones beneath the two mounds are basaltic intrusions that create hydrothermal circulation within the overlying sediments. Across the Nootka continental slope, gas hydrate related bottom-simulating reflectors are widespread and occur at depths indicating heat-flow values of 80 90 mW/m2.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2020
Title Focused fluid flow along the Nootka Fault Zone and continental slope, Explorer-Juan de Fuca plate boundary
DOI 10.1029/2020GC009095
Authors M. Riedel, K .M. M. Rohr, G. D. Spence, D. Kelley, J. Delaney, L. Lapham, John Pohlman, R.D. Hyndman, E.C. Willoughby
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Series Number
Index ID 70212590
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center