Locating a strand of the Seattle Fault Zone in southeast Seattle, Washington through topographic analysis, borehole analysis and ground penetrating radar
Contributing to the evaluation of seismic hazards, a previously unmapped strand of the Seattle Fault Zone (SFZ), cutting across the southwest side of Lake Washington and southeast Seattle, is located and characterized on the basis of bathymetry, borehole logs, and ground penetrating radar (GPR). Previous geologic mapping and geophysical analysis of the Seattle area have generally mapped the locations of some strands of the SFZ, though a complete and accurate understanding of locations of all individual strands of the fault system is still incomplete. A bathymetric scarp-like feature and co-linear aeromagnetic anomaly lineament defined the extent of the study area. A 2-dimensional lithology cross-section was constructed using six boreholes, chosen from suitable boreholes in the study area. In addition, two GPR transects, oblique to the proposed fault trend, served to identify physical differences in subsurface materials. The proposed fault trace follows the previously mapped contact between the Oligocene Blakeley Formation and Quaternary deposits, and topographic changes in slope. GPR profiles in Seward Park and across the proposed fault location show the contact between the Blakeley Formation and unconsolidated glacial deposits, but it does not constrain an offset. However, north-dipping beds in the Blakely Formation are consistent with previous interpretations of P-wave seismic profiles on Mercer Island and Bellevue, Washington. The profiles show the mapped location of the aeromagnetic lineament in Lake Washington and the inferred location of the steeply-dipping, high-amplitude bedrock reflector, representing a fault strand. This north-dipping reflector is likely the same feature identified in my analysis. I characterize the strand as a splay fault, antithetic to the frontal fault of the SFZ. This new fault may pose a geologic hazard to the region.