We present evidence that the Seattle fault zone of Washington State extends to the west edge of the Puget Lowland and is kinematically linked to active faults that border the Olympic Massif, including the Saddle Mountain deformation zone. Newly acquired high-resolution seismic reflection and marine magnetic data suggest that the Seattle fault zone extends west beyond the Seattle Basin to form a >100-km-long active fault zone. We provide evidence for a strain transfer zone, expressed as a broad set of faults and folds connecting the Seattle and Saddle Mountain deformation zones near Hood Canal. This connection provides an explanation for the apparent synchroneity of M7 earthquakes on the two fault systems ∼1100 yr ago. We redefine the boundary of the Tacoma Basin to include the previously termed Dewatto basin and show that the Tacoma fault, the southern part of which is a backthrust of the Seattle fault zone, links with a previously unidentified fault along the western margin of the Seattle uplift. We model this north-south fault, termed the Dewatto fault, along the western margin of the Seattle uplift as a low-angle thrust that initiated with exhumation of the Olympic Massif and today accommodates north-directed motion. The Tacoma and Dewatto faults likely control both the southern and western boundaries of the Seattle uplift. The inferred strain transfer zone linking the Seattle fault zone and Saddle Mountain deformation zone defines the northern margin of the Tacoma Basin, and the Saddle Mountain deformation zone forms the northwestern boundary of the Tacoma Basin. Our observations and model suggest that the western portions of the Seattle fault zone and Tacoma fault are complex, require temporal variations in principal strain directions, and cannot be modeled as a simple thrust and/or backthrust system.
- Received 28 December 2011.
- Revision received 6 April 2012.
- Accepted 9 April 2012.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America