A search of Willamette River cutbanks was conducted for the presence of late Holocene paleoliquefaction records in the Willamette forearc valley, located 175 ± 25 km landward from the buried trench in the central Cascadia subduction zone. Eight cutbank sites are reported that show evidence of large-scale fluidization features (≥10 cm width) including clastic sand dikes and intruded sand sills in Holocene overbank mud deposits. The targeted alluvial sequences, and hosted paleoliquefaction records, are of late Holocene age, as based on radiocarbon dating, flood silt thickness (≤4 m thickness), and minimal consolidation of dike sand (~1.5 ± 0.5 kg∙cm−2 unconfined compressive strength). Two of the paleoliquefaction sites, which are separated by 150 km distance, overlap in age (175 - 500 yr BP) with the last great megathrust rupture (Mw 8.5 - 9.0) in the Cascadia margin, dated at AD 1700. The scarcity of exposed late Holocene paleoliquefaction sites in the Willamette River cutbanks motivated subsurface searches for thick basal sand deposits and overlying fluidization features, using floodplain geomorphological analyses, ground penetrating radar, and remote pole-camera scans of deep trench walls (3 - 4 m depth). The onset of large-scale fluidization features occurred in overbank mud deposits (2 - 3 m thickness) above unconsolidated sand bodies (≥2 m thickness) with unconfined compressive strengths of ~1.5 ± 0.5 kg∙cm−2. We recommend geomorphically-targeted subsurface explorations rather than traditional cutbank searches for evidence of coseismic paleoliquefaction in high-gradient river valley systems.
Peterson, C. D., Kristensen, K., & Minor, R. (2014). Large-Scale Fluidization Features from Late Holocene Coseismic Paleoliquefaction in the Willamette River Forearc Valley, Central Cascadia Subduction Zone, Oregon, USA. Open Journal of Earthquake Research, 03(02), 82–99. https://doi.org/10.4236/ojer.2014.32009