Surficial Seismology: Landslides, Glaciers, and Volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest through a Seismic Lens
Allstadt, Kate Elizabeth
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The following work is focused on the use of both traditional and novel seismological tools, combined with concepts from other disciplines, to investigate shallow seismic sources and hazards. The study area is the dynamic landscape of the Pacific Northwest and its wide-ranging earthquake, landslide, glacier, and volcano-related hazards. The first chapter focuses on landsliding triggered by earthquakes, with a shallow crustal earthquake in Seattle as a case study. The study demonstrates that utilizing broadband synthetic seismograms and rigorously incorporating 3D basin amplification, 1D site effects, and fault directivity, allows for a more complete assessment of regional seismically induced landslide hazard. The study shows that the hazard is severe for Seattle, and provides a framework for future probabilistic maps and near real-time hazard assessment. The second chapter focuses on landslides that generate seismic waves and how these signals can be harnessed to better understand landslide dynamics. This is demonstrated using two contrasting Pacific Northwest landslides. The 2010 Mount Meager, BC, landslide generated strong long period waves. New full waveform inversion methods reveal the time history of forces the landslide exerted on the earth that is used to quantify event dynamics. Despite having a similar volume (~107 m3), The 2009 Nile Valley, WA, landslide did not generate observable long period motions because of its smaller accelerations, but pulses of higher frequency waves were valuable in piecing together the complex sequence of events. The final chapter details the difficulties of monitoring glacier-clad volcanoes. The focus is on small, repeating, low-frequency earthquakes at Mount Rainier that resemble volcanic earthquakes. However, based on this investigation, they are actually glacial in origin: most likely stick-slip sliding of glaciers triggered by snow loading. Identification of the source offers a view of basal glacier processes, discriminates against alarming volcanic noises, and has implications for repeating earthquakes in tectonic environments. This body of work demonstrates that by combining methods and concepts from seismology and other disciplines in new ways, we can obtain a better understanding and a fresh perspective of the physics behind the shallow seismic sources and hazards that threaten the Pacific Northwest.