Seismotectonic framework of the 2010 February 27 Mw 8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake sequence

Geophysical Journal International
By: , and 



After the 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule earthquake, an international collaboration involving teams and instruments from Chile, the US, the UK, France and Germany established the International Maule Aftershock Deployment temporary network over the source region of the event to facilitate detailed, open-access studies of the aftershock sequence. Using data from the first 9-months of this deployment, we have analyzed the detailed spatial distribution of over 2500 well-recorded aftershocks. All earthquakes have been relocated using a hypocentral decomposition algorithm to study the details of and uncertainties in both their relative and absolute locations. We have computed regional moment tensor solutions for the largest of these events to produce a catalogue of 465 mechanisms, and have used all of these data to study the spatial distribution of the aftershock sequence with respect to the Chilean megathrust. We refine models of co-seismic slip distribution of the Maule earthquake, and show how small changes in fault geometries assumed in teleseismic finite fault modelling significantly improve fits to regional GPS data, implying that the accuracy of rapid teleseismic fault models can be substantially improved by consideration of existing fault geometry model databases. We interpret all of these data in an integrated seismotectonic framework for the Maule earthquake rupture and its aftershock sequence, and discuss the relationships between co-seismic rupture and aftershock distributions. While the majority of aftershocks are interplate thrust events located away from regions of maximum co-seismic slip, interesting clusters of aftershocks are identified in the lower plate at both ends of the main shock rupture, implying internal deformation of the slab in response to large slip on the plate boundary interface. We also perform Coulomb stress transfer calculations to compare aftershock locations and mechanisms to static stress changes following the Maule rupture. Without the incorporation of uncertainties in earthquake locations, just 55 per cent of aftershock nodal planes align with faults promoted towards failure by co-seismic slip. When epicentral uncertainties are considered (on the order of just ±2–3 km), 90 per cent of aftershocks are consistent with occurring along faults demonstrating positive stress transfer. These results imply large sensitivities of Coulomb stress transfer calculations to uncertainties in both earthquake locations and models of slip distributions, particularly when applied to aftershocks close to a heterogeneous fault rupture; such uncertainties should therefore be considered in similar studies used to argue for or against models of static stress triggering.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Seismotectonic framework of the 2010 February 27 Mw 8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake sequence
Series title Geophysical Journal International
DOI 10.1093/gji/ggt238
Volume 195
Issue 2
Year Published 2013
Language English
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 18 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Geophysical Journal International
First page 1034
Last page 1051
Country Chile
City Maule