Team From Newport Maps Cascadia Fault

National Science Foundation research vessel the Marcus G Langseth docked safely at Seattle on July 11 after 41 days at sea. A team led by scientists Suzanne Carbotte, Shuoshuo Han, and Brian Boston set sail from Newport, Oregon in order to map the Cascadia Subduction Zone, an area where the Juan de Fuca plate is sliding underneath the North American plate.  

This survey, funded by the NSF, is the first seismic imaging study done on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Using the data gathered, scientists will have a better idea of what shape the fault line is. Being able to see where smaller cracks lie on the fault will help predict what sort of earthquake will result when the plates’ tension is released. This information will also allow more accurate prediction of seismic events and the consequent tsunami risks.  

In order to map the fault line, the team pointed an array of air guns at the seafloor, measuring the reflected sound with multiple hydrophones strung on a dragline behind the ship.   

To minimize the potential impact this survey had on the environment, they had five protected species observers on board who kept watch for sea life. According to Boston, the scientists only had to halt their experiments a few times, usually for humpback whales. 

According to co-chief scientist Shuoshuo Han, the survey mission was a great success, with the team completing over 90% of their objectives. The project also has a blog with profiles of the team, information on the experiment, and a gallery of pictures taken during the voyage. 

By Jalen Todd 

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