Effects of Preexisting Structures on the Seismicity of the Charlevoix Seismic Zone


The Charlevoix Seismic Zone (CSZ) is located along the early Paleozoic St. Lawrence rift zone in southeastern Quebec at the location of a major Devonian impact structure. The impact structure superimposed major, steeply dipping basement faults trending approximately N35°E. Approximately 250 earthquakes are recorded each year and are concentrated within and beneath the impact structure. Most M4+ earthquakes associated with the rift faults occurred outside the impact structure. Apart from the unique distribution of earthquakes, stress inversion of focal mechanisms shows stress rotations within the CSZ, and in the CSZ relative to the stress orientation determined from borehole breakouts. The primary goal of this research is to investigate the combined effects of the preexisting structures and regional stresses on earthquake activity and stress rotations in the CSZ. We approach this using PyLith, a finite-element code for simulations of crustal deformation. Adopting the results from recent hypocenter relocation and 3-D tomography studies, we modify the locations and dips of the rift faults and assess the effect of the new fault geometries on stress distributions. We also discuss the effects of resolved velocity anomalies. We find that the observed stress rotation is due to the combined effect of the rift faults and the impact structure. One-dimensional velocity models of the CSZ with an embedded impact structure and a combination of 65°-40°-40° and constant 70° fault dip models with a very low friction coefficient of 0.3 and cohesion of 0 MPa can explain the observed seismicity and more than 50% of the stress rotations.

Publication Title

Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth