Recent paleoseismicity record in Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA
Sedimentological and geochemical investigation of sediment cores collected in the deep (>400 m) central basin of Prince William Sound, along with geochemical fingerprinting of sediment source areas, are used to identify earthquake-generated sediment gravity flows. Prince William Sound receives sediment from two distinct sources: from offshore (primarily Copper River) through Hinchinbrook Inlet, and from sources within the Sound (primarily Columbia Glacier). These sources are found to have diagnostic elemental ratios indicative of provenance; Copper River Basin sediments were significantly higher in Sr/Pb and Cu/Pb, whereas Prince William Sound sediments were significantly higher in K/Ca and Rb/Sr. Within the past century, sediment gravity flows deposited within the deep central channel of Prince William Sound have robust geochemical (provenance) signatures that can be correlated with known moderate to large earthquakes in the region. Given the thick Holocene sequence in the Sound (~200 m) and correspondingly high sedimentation rates (>1 cm year−1), this relationship suggests that sediments within the central basin of Prince William Sound may contain an extraordinary high-resolution record of paleoseismicity in the region.