Earthquake Report: Chiapas Earthquake Update #2

Well, we had a really interesting earthquake today. There was a M 6.1 earthquake in the North America plate (NAP) to the north of the sequence offshore of Chiapas, with the M 8.1 mainshock. Here is the USGS website for the M 6.1 earthquake. There was also an M 5.8 earthquake that was a more typical aftershock (USGS website).

Why is this earthquake interesting? It is outside the region of aftershocks from the M 8.1 earthquake and it is in the upper plate (the NAP). This is not altogether groundbreaking (pardon the pun) as there are many examples of earthquakes in one plate triggering earthquakes in other plates. For example, the recent sequence just to the south of the M 8.1 sequence (which may have led partly to the M 8.1 earthquake).

This earthquake also triggered (sorry for the pun, another one) a debate about the difference between triggered earthquakes and aftershocks. This discussion is largely semantic and does not really matter from a natural hazards perspective. The rocks behave to physics, not how we classify them. So, we don’t need to get caught up in this lexicon (as long as we all have a general understanding of what is happening). In the classic sense, I interpret this M 6.1 (and the few nearby earthquakes) to be triggered, but they are in the region that may have an increased coulomb stress.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 8.0. I include fault plane solutions for the 1985 and 1995 earthquakes (along with the MMI contours for those earthquakes, see below for a discussion of MMI contours).

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the left center I include a generalized plate tectonic map from Wikimedia Creative Commons here.
  • In the lower left corner I include a map from Dr. Jascha Polet. Dr. Polet plots focal mechanisms for historic earthquakes. Dr. Polet notes the M 8.1, M7.1, M 6.1, and M 5.8 earthquakes too. Purple dots are epicenters after the M 8.1 earthquake and black dots are SSN (the Mexico seismic network data).
  • In the upper right corner is a map and cross section from Dr. Gavin Hayes. The upper cross section, oriented perpendicular to the subduction zone fault, shows focal mechanisms. Note how the M 8.1 (large green symbol) is in the downgoing Cocos plate and the M 6,.1 (small red symbol at about 300 km) is in the North America plate.
  • In the upper left corner is a figure Dr. Hayes also prepared. This shows the change in static coulomb stress associated with the M 8.1 earthquake. Tremblor prepared this analysis and I presented that in the M 7.1 earthquake report here. Basically, areas of warm color show an increased stress and regions of cool color show a decreased stress. So, areas in warm color are more likely to trigger an earthquake. Though this is a simple run as different faults can respond differently.


  • Here is the initial report poster as presented in my initial Earthquake Report here.

  • Here is the update #1 report poster as presented in my initial Earthquake Report here.

  • Here is the update #1 report poster for the M 7.1 Puebla, Mexico earthquake (which shows the coulomb stress modeling from Tremblor).

  • Here is Dr. Polet’s tweet of this map.
  • AND an updated map and cross section.
  • Here is Dr. Hayes’ tweet of his map and cross section.
  • Here is Dr. Hayes’ tweet of his static coulomb change map.
  • The discussion about what is a triggered earthquake and what is an aftershock, as I mentioned above, is the topic of discussion between experts in the field. The debate will probably be enduring for a quite a while, especially since classification systems are a social construct and have no real basis in reality (or physics). Classification systems are an excellent example of how science is subjective (science is fundamentally subjective, but that is a longer discussion, read some Karl Popper for more insight). This discussion led me to a web post following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake sequence. Here is a website with one view on this debate, prepared by Dr. Chris Rowan. I present two of their figures below.


References:

  • Benz, H.M., Dart, R.L., Villaseñor, Antonio, Hayes, G.P., Tarr, A.C., Furlong, K.P., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 a. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-F, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Benz, H.M., Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 b. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Caribbean plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-A, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Franco, A., C. Lasserre H. Lyon-Caen V. Kostoglodov E. Molina M. Guzman-Speziale D. Monterosso V. Robles C. Figueroa W. Amaya E. Barrier L. Chiquin S. Moran O. Flores J. Romero J. A. Santiago M. Manea V. C. Manea, 2012. Fault kinematics in northern Central America and coupling along the subduction interface of the Cocos Plate, from GPS data in Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala and El Salvador in Geophysical Journal International., v. 189, no. 3, p. 1223-1236. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05390.x
  • Franco, S.I., Kostoglodov, V., Larson, K.M., Manea, V.C>, Manea, M., and Santiago, J.A., 2005. Propagation of the 2001–2002 silent earthquake and interplate coupling in the Oaxaca subduction zone, Mexico in Earth Planets Space, v. 57., p. 973-985.
  • Garcia-Casco, A., Projenza, J.A., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., 2011. Subduction Zones of the Caribbean: the sedimentary, magmatic, metamorphic and ore-deposit records UNESCO/iugs igcp Project 546 Subduction Zones of the Caribbean in Geologica Acta, v. 9, no., 3-4, p. 217-224
  • Hayes, G. P., D. J. Wald, and R. L. Johnson, 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Lay et al., 2011. Outer trench-slope faulting and the 2011 Mw 9.0 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake in Earth Planets Space, v. 63, p. 713-718.
  • Manea, M., and Manea, V.C., 2014. On the origin of El Chichón volcano and subduction of Tehuantepec Ridge: A geodynamical perspective in JGVR, v. 175, p. 459-471.
  • Mann, P., 2007, Overview of the tectonic history of northern Central America, in Mann, P., ed., Geologic and tectonic development of the Caribbean plate boundary in northern Central America: Geological Society of America Special Paper 428, p. 1–19, doi: 10.1130/2007.2428(01). For
  • McCann, W.R., Nishenko S.P., Sykes, L.R., and Krause, J., 1979. Seismic Gaps and Plate Tectonics” Seismic Potential for Major Boundaries in Pageoph, v. 117
  • Symithe, S., E. Calais, J. B. de Chabalier, R. Robertson, and M. Higgins, 2015. Current block motions and strain accumulation on active faults in the Caribbean in J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, v. 120, p. 3748–3774, doi:10.1002/2014JB011779.

Posted in earthquake, education, Extension, geology, mexico, pacific, plate tectonics

Earthquake Report: Mendocino fault! (northern California)

I was driving around Eureka today, running to the appliance center to get an appliance (heheh). I got a message from a long time held friend (who lives in Salinas, CA). They asked me if I was OK, given that there was an earthquake up here. I thought I had not felt it because I was driving around. However, after looking at the USGS website, I learned the earthquake happened earlier, while I was back working on my house. The main reason I did not feel it is because it was too far away.

Once I got home, after work, I noticed that lots of people were discussing how they were confused about the earthquake notifications from the USGS. Apparently, there were two M 5.X earthquakes in the USGS earthquake online system for a while. Then there was one. This is a common occurrence and I prepared an explanation for some people Here is what I wrote for these people on social media:

this happens regularly. earthquake notifications are automatic as epicenter locations are identified from incoming seismic waves in the seismic network. sometimes the named arrivals (eg. p wave, s wave, and the many other arrivals) are miss-correlated between stations. this miss-correlation then leads to earthquakes in the database that are not real.

seismologists are monitoring the process and review these data for quality, looking for mistakes, and refining magnitude estimates, moment tensor and focal mechanism solutions, location estimates, casualty estimages (PAGER alerts), and all the derivative data products (intensity, PGA, PGV, etc. maps and data).

sometimes these earthquakes are from data in the same location as the real earthquake (like today) and sometimes they are “picked” from seismic data from remote earthquakes.

some of these earthquakes are listed here:
https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/errata.php

Today’s M 5.7 earthquake was along the western part of the Mendocino fault (MF), a right-lateral (dextral) transform plate boundary. This plate boundary connects the Gorda ridge and Juan de Fuca rise spreading centers with their counterparts in the Gulf of California, with the San Andreas strike-slip fault system. Transform plate boundaries are defined that they are strike-slip and that they connect spreading ridges. In this sense of the definition, the Mendocino fault and the San Andreas fault are part of the same system. Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.

See the figures from Rollins and Stein (2010) below. More on earthquakes in this region can be found in Earthquake Reports listed at the bottom of this page above the appendices.

The San Andreas fault is a right-lateral strike-slip transform plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates. The plate boundary is composed of faults that are parallel to sub-parallel to the SAF and extend from the west coast of CA to the Wasatch fault (WF) system in central Utah (the WF runs through Salt Lake City and is expressed by the mountain range on the east side of the basin that Salt Lake City is built within).

The three main faults in the region north of San Francisco are the SAF, the MF, and the Bartlett Springs fault (BSF). I also place a graphical depiction of the USGS moment tensor for this earthquake. The SAF, MF, and BSF are all right lateral strike-slip fault systems. There are no active faults mapped in the region of Sunday’s epicenter, but I interpret this earthquake to have right-lateral slip. Without more seismicity or mapped faults to suggest otherwise, this is a reasonable interpretation.

The Cascadia subduction zone is a convergent plate boundary where the Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates (JDFP and GP, respectively) subduct norteastwardly beneath the North America plate at rates ranging from 29- to 45-mm/yr. The Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates are formed at the Juan de Fuca Ridge and Gorda Rise spreading centers respectively. More about the CSZ can be found here.

There was a good sized (M 6.5) MF earthquake late last year on 2016.12.08. I present my poster for that earthquake below. Here is my report for that earthquake. Here is the updated report.

Below I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I use the USGS Quaternary fault and fold database for the faults.

  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (McCrory et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

This is a preliminary report and I hope to prepare some updates as I collect more information.

    I have placed several inset figures.

  • In the upper right corner is a map of the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) and regional tectonic plate boundary faults. This is modified from several sources (Chaytor et al., 2004; Nelson et al., 2004). I placed a blue star in the general location of today’s M 5.7 earthquake.
  • Below the CSZ map is an illustration modified from Plafker (1972). This figure shows how a subduction zone deforms between (interseismic) and during (coseismic) earthquakes. Today’s earthquake did not occur along the CSZ, so did not produce crustal deformation like this. However, it is useful to know this when studying the CSZ.
  • In the lower left corner is a figure from Rollins and Stein (2010). In their paper they discuss how static coulomb stress changes from earthquakes may impart (or remove) stress from adjacent crust/faults. This map shows the major earthquakes that have occurred in this region, prior to their publication in 2010. I place a blue star in the general location of today’s earthquake.
  • Above the Rollins and Stein (2010) map are two illustrations showing the difference between a right-lateral and a left-lateral strike slip fault. This is from California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
  • To the right of the Rollins and Stein (2010) map, is a generalized illustration showing an interpretation of the results from these authors. They suggest that, for a variety of earthquake sources in this region, which types of faults have inhibited or promoted earthquake likelihood. The relevant part is C, which tests whether there is an increased or decreased likelihood (chance) of an earthquake on the left-lateral strike-slip faults in the Gorda plate. Based upon today’s M 5.7, there is a slight increase in the chance of a Gorda plate earthquake to the northwest of today’s M 5.7 earthquake. This is the distant side of the M 5.7 earthquake, so any potential GP earthquake would be further away.
    • In the upper right corner is a figure that many people in Humboldt and Del Norte counties might be interested in (the two most northwesterly counties in CA). These two panels both show the same general result (as relevant to this discussion), the increased or decreased chance of an earthquake on two types of faults (north of the dashed line, the chance on GP left-lateral faults; south of dashed line, the chance on the MF. The region of this figure is outlined in dashed white transparent box on the main poster. We can see that the CSZ is just to the east of this figure. People always want to know if there is an increased chance of a megathrust earthquake on the CSZ. This M 5.7 will not have a direct impact upon the CSZ. Over time, earthquakes like this actually bring the CSZ closer to an earthquake (they do not relieve stress, but increase it). But the deformation of the Gorda and Pacific plates is localized near the earthquake. So, it does not change the stress on the megathrust. But, hundreds of earthquakes like this, over time, do increase the stress on the megathrust.
    • The figure here helps us evaluate this concept for this M 5.7 earthquake. The 1994 earthquake, represented in this figure, caused an increase in stress along faults generally in the region of this figure (extending outwards more a little to the south, less more to the west, and very little more to the north and east. The take away is that the 1994 did not change the stress on faults very much in the region of the megathrust. Because today’s M 5.7 earthquake is even further to the west, there is not a possibility that this M 5.7 had any affect on the megathrust.


  • Here is the 2016.12.08 earthquake report poster from this report.

  • For more on the graphical representation of moment tensors and focal mechnisms, check this IRIS video out:
  • Here is a fantastic infographic from Frisch et al. (2011). This figure shows some examples of earthquakes in different plate tectonic settings, and what their fault plane solutions are. There is a cross section showing these focal mechanisms for a thrust or reverse earthquake. The upper right corner includes my favorite figure of all time. This shows the first motion (up or down) for each of the four quadrants. This figure also shows how the amplitude of the seismic waves are greatest (generally) in the middle of the quadrant and decrease to zero at the nodal planes (the boundary of each quadrant).

  • Here is a map from Rollins and Stein, showing their interpretations of different historic earthquakes in the region. This was published in response to the January 2010 Gorda plate earthquake. The faults are from Chaytor et al. (2004). The 1980, 1992, 1994, 2005, and 2010 earthquakes are plotted and labeled. I did not mention the 2010 earthquake, but it most likely was just like 1980 and 2005, a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake on a northeast striking fault.

  • Tectonic configuration of the Gorda deformation zone and locations and source models for 1976–2010 M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes. Letters designate chronological order of earthquakes (Table 1 and Appendix A). Plate motion vectors relative to the Pacific Plate (gray arrows in main diagram) are from Wilson [1989], with Cande and Kent’s [1995] timescale correction.

  • Here is the Rollins and Stein (2010) figure that is in the report above. I include their figure caption as blockquote below.

  • Coulomb stress changes imparted by our models of (a) a bilateral rupture and (b) a unilateral eastward rupture for the 1994 Mw = 7.0 Mendocino Fault Zone earthquake to the epicenters of the 1995 Mw = 6.6 southern Gorda zone earthquake (N) and the 2000 Mw = 5.9 Mendocino Fault Zone earthquake (O). Calculation depth is 5 km.

  • Here is a large scale map of the 1994 earthquake swarm. The mainshock epicenter is a black star and epicenters are denoted as white circles.

  • Here is a plot of focal mechanisms from the Dengler et al. (1995) paper in California Geology.

  • In this map below, I label a number of other significant earthquakes in this Mendocino triple junction region. Another historic right-lateral earthquake on the Mendocino fault system was in 1994. There was a series of earthquakes possibly along the easternmost section of the Mendocino fault system in late January 2015, here is my post about that earthquake series.

  • The Gorda and Juan de Fuca plates subduct beneath the North America plate to form the Cascadia subduction zone fault system. In 1992 there was a swarm of earthquakes with the magnitude Mw 7.2 Mainshock on 4/25. Initially this earthquake was interpreted to have been on the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ). The moment tensor shows a compressional mechanism. However the two largest aftershocks on 4/26/1992 (Mw 6.5 and Mw 6.7), had strike-slip moment tensors. These two aftershocks align on what may be the eastern extension of the Mendocino fault.
  • There have been several series of intra-plate earthquakes in the Gorda plate. Two main shocks that I plot of this type of earthquake are the 1980 (Mw 7.2) and 2005 (Mw 7.2) earthquakes. I place orange lines approximately where the faults are that ruptured in 1980 and 2005. These are also plotted in the Rollins and Stein (2010) figure above. The Gorda plate is being deformed due to compression between the Pacific plate to the south and the Juan de Fuca plate to the north. Due to this north-south compression, the plate is deforming internally so that normal faults that formed at the spreading center (the Gorda Rise) are reactivated as left-lateral strike-slip faults. In 2014, there was another swarm of left-lateral earthquakes in the Gorda plate. I posted some material about the Gorda plate setting on this page.
  • There are three types of earthquakes, strike-slip, compressional (reverse or thrust, depending upon the dip of the fault), and extensional (normal). Here is are some animations of these three types of earthquake faults. Many of the earthquakes people are familiar with in the Mendocino triple junction region are either compressional or strike slip. The following three animations are from IRIS.
  • Strike Slip:

    Compressional:

    Extensional:

  • This figure shows what a transform plate boundary fault is. Looking down from outer space, the crust on either side of the fault moves side-by-side. When one is standing on the ground, on one side of the fault, looking across the fault as it moves… If the crust on the other side of the fault moves to the right, the fault is a “right lateral” strike slip fault. The Mendocino and San Andreas faults are right-lateral (dextral) strike-slip faults. I believe this is from Pearson Higher Ed.

Update

  • Here is a video of the seismograph for this M 5.7 earthquake. The video was captured by Cindy Scammell, an undergraduate student at the Humboldt State University, Department of Geology. She is lovingly caring for her newborn. Here is a link to download the video. (3 MB mp4)
  • Abbreviations
  • BSF – Bartlett Springs fault
  • CA – California
  • CSZ – Cascadia subduction zone
  • GP – Gorda plate
  • JDFP – Juan de Fuca plate
  • MF – Mendocino fault
  • MMI – Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale
  • SAF – San Andreas fault
  • USGS – U.S. Geological Survey
  • WF – Wasatch fault

    References

  • Atwater, B.F., Musumi-Rokkaku, S., Satake, K., Tsuju, Y., Eueda, K., and Yamaguchi, D.K., 2005. The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America, USGS Professional Paper 1707, USGS, Reston, VA, 144 pp.
  • Chaytor, J.D., Goldfinger, C., Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G., 2004. Active deformation of the Gorda plate: Constraining deformation models with new geophysical data: Geology v. 32, p. 353-356.
  • Dengler, L.A., Moley, K.M., McPherson, R.C., Pasyanos, M., Dewey, J.W., and Murray, M., 1995. The September 1, 1994 Mendocino Fault Earthquake, California Geology, Marc/April 1995, p. 43-53.
  • Frisch, W., Meschede, M., Blakey, R., 2011. Plate Tectonics, Springer-Verlag, London, 213 pp.
  • Geist, E.L. and Andrews D.J., 2000. Slip rates on San Francisco Bay area faults from anelastic deformation of the continental lithosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 105, no. B11, p. 25,543-25,552.
  • Irwin, W.P., 1990. Quaternary deformation, in Wallace, R.E. (ed.), 1990, The San Andreas Fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, online at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1990/1515/
  • McCrory, P.A.,. Blair, J.L., Waldhauser, F., kand Oppenheimer, D.H., 2012. Juan de Fuca slab geometry and its relation to Wadati-Benioff zone seismicity in JGR, v. 117, B09306, doi:10.1029/2012JB009407.
  • McLaughlin, R.J., Sarna-Wojcicki, A.M., Wagner, D.L., Fleck, R.J., Langenheim, V.E., Jachens, R.C., Clahan, K., and Allen, J.R., 2012. Evolution of the Rodgers Creek–Maacama right-lateral fault system and associated basins east of the northward-migrating Mendocino Triple Junction, northern California in Geosphere, v. 8, no. 2., p. 342-373.
  • Nelson, A.R., Asquith, A.C., and Grant, W.C., 2004. Great Earthquakes and Tsunamis of the Past 2000 Years at the Salmon River Estuary, Central Oregon Coast, USA: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 94, No. 4, pp. 1276–1292
  • Rollins, J.C. and Stein, R.S., 2010. Coulomb stress interactions among M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes in the Gorda deformation zone and on the Mendocino Fault Zone, Cascadia subduction zone, and northern San Andreas Fault: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 115, B12306, doi:10.1029/2009JB007117, 2010.
  • Stoffer, P.W., 2006, Where’s the San Andreas Fault? A guidebook to tracing the fault on public lands in the San Francisco Bay region: U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication 16, 123 p., online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2006/16/
  • Wallace, Robert E., ed., 1990, The San Andreas fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, 283 p. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1988/1434/].

Posted in cascadia, earthquake, education, geology, gorda, HSU, mendocino, strike-slip, Transform

Earthquake Report: Puebla, Mexico Update #1

Well, the responses of people who are in the midst of a deadly disaster have been inspiring, bringing tears to my eyes often. Watching people searching and helping find survivors. This deadly earthquake brings pause to all who are paying attention. May we learn from this disaster with the hopes that others will suffer less from these lessons.

I have been discussing this earthquake with other experts, both online (i.e. the twitterverse, where most convo happens these days) and offline. Many of these experts are presenting their interpretations of this earthquake as it may help us learn about plate tectonics. While many of us are interested in learning these technical details, I can only hope that we seek a similar goal, to reduce future suffering. Plate tectonics is a young science and we have an ultra short observation period (given that the recurrence of earthquakes can be centuries to millenia, it may take centuries or more to fully understand these processes).

Here I present a review of the material that I have seen in the past day and how I interpret these data. The main focus of the poster is a comparison of ground shaking for three earthquakes. Also of interest is the ongoing discussion about how the 2019.09.08 M 8.1 Chiapas Earthquake and this M 7.1 Puebla Earthquake relate to each other. My initial interpretation holds, that the temporal relations between these earthquakes is coincidental (but we now have the analysis to support this interpretation!).

  • There are some reasons why these earthquakes are unrelated.
    1. They are too distant (static triggering is often limited to 1-2 fault lengths from the first earthquake).
    2. The Cocos plate (CP) changes shape between these two earthquakes, so it is complicated. The CP dips at a steep angle in the Chiapas region, while it dips at a shallow angle (about flat in places) further north. The Tehuantepec Ridge (TR) has an age offset and this may affect how the CP behaves differently on either side of the TR (mostly a fracture zone, but I need to look into this more, it may be thickened crust for some reason other than simply due to the fracture zone here).
    3. Dynamic triggering is when faults slip because they have increased stress as seismic waves travel through them. There is some work suggesting that these seismic waves can change the fluid pressures for a transient time period, possibly triggering earthquakes for a period after the seismic waves have already passed. The M 7.1 did not happen while the seismic waves were traveling following the M 8.1, so the M 7.1 is probably not due to dynamic triggering.
  • There is one major reason the ground shaking is amplified in the region of Mexico City. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, the first peoples here lived at the shores of a large lake. They farmed on floating islands made of reeds and other material. Eventually the lake filled with sediment and turned into land, until the lake was gone. Given that Mexico City has the largest population of any city on Earth, as it was developed, the ground water was probably drained to facilitate the construction of large buildings (but I don’t know as much about this part of the history). I include a video about why water saturated sediments (i.e. sand and mud) can amplify seismic waves and intensify ground shaking.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the USGS seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 7.0. I include the USGS fault plane solution for the 1985 earthquake. I also include the USGS moment tensor for the 2017.09.08 M 8.1 earthquake.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner I include a generalized plate tectonic map from Wikimedia Creative Commons here.
  • In the upper right corner are two map insets. The upper one is a map that includes the USGS MMI contours for the M 7.1 earthquake and the lower one is the same for the 1985 M 8.0 earthquake. I have outlined the area of Mexico City with a white dashed line. I created polygons for the higher MMI contours in the region of Mexico City and colored them with respect to these MMI valaues. For the M 7.1 earthquake, MMI VI is shown in yellow and MMI VI.5 is shown in darker yellow. For the 1985 earthquake, MMI VI is shown, but MMI VI.5 is not modeled for Mexico City. The take away: the M 7.1 potentially caused greater ground shaking in the Mexico City region than did the 1985 earthquake.
  • In the lower left corner is a comparison of three ground motion model results from the Instituto De Ingenieria. From left to right are the 1985 M 8.0, the 2017 M 8.1, and the 2017 M 7.1 earthquakes. There are a variety of model results for these earthquakes, but I selected the results shown for a 1 second period (the period of seismic waves) because this is a frequency of seismic waves that multi story buildings can be sensitive to (see educational video about resonance below for more on this). Note that the largest ground motions are from the M 7.1 earthquake. The 1985 was quite deadly and damaging, with between 6,000 and 12,000 deaths. If this M 7.1 earthquake had occurred in 1985, there probably would have been even more damage and a higher casualty number.
  • Above these comparison maps is a figure prepared by Temblor here, a company that helps people learn and prepare to be more resilient given a variety of natural hazards. This figure is the result of numerical modeling of static coulomb stress changes in the lithosphere following the 2017 M 8.1 earthquake. This basically means that regions that are red have an increased stress (an increased likelihood for an earthquake) following the earthquake, while blue represents a lower stress, or likelihood. The change in stress are very very small compared to the overall stress on any tectonic fault. This means that an earthquake may be triggered from this change in stress ONLY IF the fault is already highly strained (i.e. that the fault is about ready to generate an earthquake within a short time period, like a day, month, or year or so). The take away: the M 8.1 earthquake did not increase the stress on faults in the region of the M 7.1 (Temblor suggests the amount of increased stress near the M 7.1 is about the amount of force it takes to snap one’s fingers.


  • Here is my original interpretive poster.

  • Here is a video of the seismic waves, as they are being recorded, on the Baby Benioff seismograph in Van Matre Hall at Humboldt State University, Department of Geology. This was provided via the unofficial HSU geology facebook page, uploaded by Dr. Mark Hemphill-Haley. Here is a link to the 10 MB mp4 file for downloading.
  • Here is what Dr. Hemphill-Haley wrote about this video.
  • M 7.1 Puebla, Mexico earthquake at 11:14 AM PDT as recorded on the HSU Baby Benioff. The video is showing the surface waves arriving at campus, preceded by the P-waves at the beginning and S-waves immediately prior to the large amplitude waves. Our thoughts are with people in Mexico.

  • Here is one of the ground motion visualizations from IRIS here. Above the video is a screenshot preview. Here is a link to the video for downloading. (7 MB mp4)

  • As I mentioned the lake basin, here are some figures addressing that.
  • Here is a figure showing the thickness of the lake sediments here (Cruz-Atienza et al., 2016).

  • Topographic setting of Mexico City (MC) and the Valley of Mexico. Color scale corresponds to the basin thickness (i.e., the basin contact with the Oligocene volcanics of the Transmexican Volcanic Belt, TMVB). Stars show the epicenters for the vertical body forces applied at the free surface (green) and the magnitude 3.4 earthquake of December 1, 2014 (red). This figure has been created using the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) Version 5.3.0, http://gmt.soest.hawaii.edu.

  • This is also from Cruz-Atienza et al. (2016) which shows their modeled seismic waves traveling through the basin.

  • Snapshots of the Green’s function for the vertical body force S6 (see Fig. 1) described by the inset time history with flat spectrum up to 1 Hz. Notice the topographic scattering, the generation and propagation of wave trains at different speeds within the basin, and their multiple diffractions. This figure has been created using the Matlab software Version R2016a, http://www.mathworks.com/.

  • Finally, here is a compilation of their model results showing how the lake basin sediments both amplify the ground motions (upper right panel) and increase their duration (lower right panel). Basically, the lake acts like a bowl of Jello.

  • (a,c) Comparison of average eigenfunctions for the 8 sources with standard deviation bars for both elastic (blue solid) and viscoelastic (red solid) simulations at two representative sites, P1 and P2, and different frequencies. Dashed lines show theoretical eigenfunctions for the vertical component of Rayleigh waves in the model of Figure A1a (Table A1) for the fundamental mode (blue) and the first (red) and second (green) overtones. Normalized peak vertical displacements observed in different boreholes (green dots in Fig. 1) are shown with black circles and error bars (after Shapiro et al., 2001). (b) Fourier spectral amplifications (geometric mean of both horizontal components) at 0.5 Hz with respect to the CUIG site (Fig. 1) averaged for the 8 sources. The black contour corresponds to the 2 s dominant-period. (d) Duration of the strong shaking phase for f < 1 Hz averaged for the 8 sources.

  • Here is an educational animation from IRIS that helps us learn about how different earth materials can lead to different amounts of amplification of seismic waves. Recall that Mexico City is underlain by lake sediments with varying amounts of water (groundwater) in the sediments.
  • Here is an educational video from IRIS that helps us learn about resonant frequency and how buildings can be susceptible to ground motions with particular periodicity, relative to the building size.
  • So, bringing this work as applied to this earthquake, Dr. Jascha Polet prepared this map that shows the outline of the lake and the locations of damaged and collapsed buildings. Note the correlation. Below the map, I include her tweet.

  • Here are some figures that show how the subduction zone varies across the Tehuantepec Ridge. More about this in my initial report, as well as in my reports for the M 8.1 earthquake.
  • This is a figure showing the location of the Tehuantepec Ridge (Quzman-Speziale and Zunia, 2015).

  • Tectonic framework of the Cocos plate convergent margin. Top- General view. Yellow arrows indicate direction and speed (in cm/yr) of plate convergence, calculated from the Euler poles given by DeMets et al. (2010) for CocoeNoam (first three arrows, from left to right), and CocoeCarb (last four arrows). Length of arrow is proportional to speed. Red arrow shows location of the 96 longitude. Box indicates location of lower panel. Bottom- Location of features and places mentioned in text. Triangles indicate volcanoes of the Central American Volcanic Arc (CAVA) with known Holocene eruption (Siebert and Simkin, 2002).

  • Here is another figure, showing seismicity for this region (Quzman-Speziale and Zunia, 2015).

  • Seismicity along the convergent margin. Top: Map view. Blue circles are shallow (z < 60 km) hypocenters; orange, intermediate-depth (60 < z < 100 km); yellow, deep (z > 100 km). Next three panels: Earthquakes as a function of longitude and magnitude for shallow (blue dots), intermediate (orange), and deep (yellow) hypocenters. Numbers indicate number of events on each convergent margin, with average magnitude in parenthesis. Gray line in this and subsequent figures mark the 96 deg longitude.

  • This shows the location of the cross sections. The cross sections show how the CP changes dip along strike (from north to south) (Quzman-Speziale and Zunia, 2015).

  • Location of hypocentral cross-sections. Hypocentral depths are keyed as in previous figures.

  • Here are the cross sections showing the seismicity associated with the downgoing CP (Quzman-Speziale and Zunia, 2015).

  • Hypocentral cross-sections. Depths are color-coded as in previous figures. Dashed lines indicate the 60-km and 100-km depths. Tick marks are at 100-km intervals, as shown on the sections. There is no vertical exaggeration and Earth’s curvature is taken into account. Number of sections refers to location on Fig. 3.

  • This figure shows thrust and normal earthquakes for three ranges of depth (Quzman-Speziale and Zunia, 2015).

  • Earthquake fault-plane solutions from CMT data. a. Shallow (z < 60 km), thrust-faulting mechanisms. b. Intermediate-depth (60 < z < 100 km) thrust-faulting events. c. Deep (z > 100 km), thrust-faulting earthquakes. d. to f. Normal-faulting events, in same layout as for thrust-faulting events.

  • Here are three figures from Tremblor.net, one of which is in the interpretive poster. These are the analyses I was discussing that we needed to see in my initial report. More detailed discussion can be found here.

  • This figure shows that there are not many earthquakes in the region between the M 8.1 and M 7.1 earthquakes. This is supporting evidence that there was not a significant increase in stress in this region (independent negative evidence for static triggering of the M 7.1 from the M 8.1).

  • This figure shows their modeling of the subduction zone in the region of the M 8.1 earthquake. I queried whether the megathrust had an increased stress following the M 8.1 earthquake. Part of the megathrust here ruptured in 1902, but the rest of the “Tehuantepec Gap” does not have an historic record (since ~1600 AD). Note how the megathrust is mostly blue, suggesting a lower likelihood of rupture. There is a narrow band of increased stress (in red). This model uses the finite fault model from Dr. Gavin Hayes (USGS).

  • As far as the likelihood of dynamic triggering (increased stress on faults while seismic waves are travelling through them), here is an analysis that helps us visualize this. This analysis (Pollitz et al., 2012) shows regions of increased dynamic stress following the 2012 Wharton Basin earthquakes. The lower spheres show seismicity for a time period following the earthquakes and note how they align with the red areas, areas of increased dynamic stress.

  • The 2012 M = 8.6 mainshock and M = 8.2 aftershock fault ruptures and maps of strain duration tstrain at a threshold value of 0.1 microstrain. a, Inferred fault ruptures of the 11 April 2012 M = 8.6 east Indian Ocean earthquake and an M = 8.2 aftershock that occurred 2 h later. Superimposed are the first 20 d of M > 4.5 aftershocks of 0–100-km depth. These earthquakes probably ruptured a complex set of subparallel and conjugate faults with the indicated sense of motion (arrows). Parts of the rupture areas of the 2004 M = 9.2 and 2005 M = 8.7 Nias earthquakes on the Sunda megathrust are indicated. b, c, Global maps of tstrain (colour scale). Superimposed are the epicentres of M>5.5 events that occurred during the 6 d preceding the mainshock (2 epicentres) and following the mainshock (24 epicentres, 16 of which are remote, that is, .1,500km from the mainshock). Focal mechanisms of six post-mainshock events with near-vertical strike-slip mechanisms (plunge of neutral axis, >60 deg) are indicated with red beachballs. The 9:00:09 11 April 2012 M = 5.5 event (in the western Aleutian Islands) occurred 21 min 33 s after the mainshock between the direct P- and S-wave arrivals from the mainshock; all others are delayed by hours to days. The focal mechanism of the mainshock is plotted at its epicentre.

  • Here is the comparison I put together for the ground motion modeling presented in the poster above.

  • Here is a really cool video that shows the seismic record of Hurricane Maria and the M 7.1 earthquake are recorded by seismometers (prepared by . The top panel shows the seismograph. The middle panel shows a spectrogram of these seismic data (showing the frequency content of the seismic waves). The lower panel shows the position of the Hurricane and M 8.1 earthquake epicenter (they should have shown the M 7.1, but that is not important. The audio is a conversion of the seismic data into sound. Here is the 1 MB mp4 file for downloading. This was prepared by Zhigang Peng from Georgia Tech for the station IU.SJG — San Juan, Puerto Rico. This is posted on the IRIS special event page. note: the hurricane and this earthquake are NOT RELATED!

References:

  • Benz, H.M., Dart, R.L., Villaseñor, Antonio, Hayes, G.P., Tarr, A.C., Furlong, K.P., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 a. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-F, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Benz, H.M., Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 b. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Caribbean plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-A, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Cruz-Atienza et al., 2016. Long Duration of Ground Motion in the Paradigmatic Valley of Mexico in Scientific Reports, v. 6, DOI: 10.1038/srep38807
  • Franco, A., C. Lasserre H. Lyon-Caen V. Kostoglodov E. Molina M. Guzman-Speziale D. Monterosso V. Robles C. Figueroa W. Amaya E. Barrier L. Chiquin S. Moran O. Flores J. Romero J. A. Santiago M. Manea V. C. Manea, 2012. Fault kinematics in northern Central America and coupling along the subduction interface of the Cocos Plate, from GPS data in Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala and El Salvador in Geophysical Journal International., v. 189, no. 3, p. 1223-1236. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05390.x
  • Franco, S.I., Kostoglodov, V., Larson, K.M., Manea, V.C>, Manea, M., and Santiago, J.A., 2005. Propagation of the 2001–2002 silent earthquake and interplate coupling in the Oaxaca subduction zone, Mexico in Earth Planets Space, v. 57., p. 973-985.
  • Garcia-Casco, A., Projenza, J.A., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., 2011. Subduction Zones of the Caribbean: the sedimentary, magmatic, metamorphic and ore-deposit records UNESCO/iugs igcp Project 546 Subduction Zones of the Caribbean in Geologica Acta, v. 9, no., 3-4, p. 217-224
  • Gérault, M., Husson, L., Miller, M.S., and Humphreys, E.D., 2015. Flat-slab subduction, topography, and mantle dynamics in southwestern Mexico in Tectonics, v. 34, p. 1892-1909, doi:10.1002/2015TC003908.
  • Quzman-Speziale, M. and Zunia, F.R., 2015. Differences and similarities in the Cocos-North America and Cocos-Caribbean convergence, as revealed by seismic moment tensors in Journal of South American Earth Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsames.2015.10.002
  • Hayes, G. P., D. J. Wald, and R. L. Johnson, 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Lay et al., 2011. Outer trench-slope faulting and the 2011 Mw 9.0 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake in Earth Planets Space, v. 63, p. 713-718.
  • Manea, M., and Manea, V.C., 2014. On the origin of El Chichón volcano and subduction of Tehuantepec Ridge: A geodynamical perspective in JGVR, v. 175, p. 459-471.
  • Mann, P., 2007, Overview of the tectonic history of northern Central America, in Mann, P., ed., Geologic and tectonic development of the Caribbean plate boundary in northern Central America: Geological Society of America Special Paper 428, p. 1–19, doi: 10.1130/2007.2428(01). For
  • McCann, W.R., Nishenko S.P., Sykes, L.R., and Krause, J., 1979. Seismic Gaps and Plate Tectonics” Seismic Potential for Major Boundaries in Pageoph, v. 117
  • Pérez-Campos, Z., Kim, Y., Husker, A., Davis, P.M. ,Clayton, R.W., Iglesias,k A., Pacheco, J.F., Singh, S.K., Manea, V.C., and Gurnis, M., 2008. Horizontal subduction and truncation of the Cocos Plate beneath central Mexico in GRL, v. 35, doi:10.1029/2008GL035127
  • Polltz, F.F., Stein, R.S., Sevigen, V., Burgmann, R., 2012. The 11 April 2012 east Indian Ocean earthquake triggered large aftershocks worldwide in Nature, v. 000, doi:10.1038/nature11504
  • Symithe, S., E. Calais, J. B. de Chabalier, R. Robertson, and M. Higgins, 2015. Current block motions and strain accumulation on active faults in the Caribbean in J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, v. 120, p. 3748–3774, doi:10.1002/2014JB011779.

Posted in earthquake, education, Extension, geology, mexico, plate tectonics, subduction

Earthquake Report: Puebla, Mexico

Earlier today there was a large earthquake associated in some way with the subduction zone forming the Middle America Trench. There is currently some debate about what plate this earthquake occurred within, but it appears to be an intraplate earthquake within the downgoing Cocos plate (CP), beneath the North America plate (NAP).

I initially thought that this was unrelated to the recent M 8.1 earthquake offshore of Chiapas, Mexico. This is due to my view of aftershocks, that they typically occur within 2 rupture lengths of the mainshock and that they need to be on the same fault (or nearby synthetic fault). However, upon discussing this on twitter, Dr. Susan Hough suggests that this need not be the case, referring to Richter, “Charles Richter observed in the ’50s that distant aftershocks could be part of local sequences set into motion by early triggered quakes.” My initial view was also based upon the slab contours (depth contours to the top of the subducting plate, as published by Hayes et al., 2012), which are discontinuous in this region. This suggested that the earthquake was in the upper plate, the NAP. However, upon discussions with Dr. Stephen Hicks, he suggested people refer to Gérault et al. (2015) that show how the subducting slab (the CP) is flat in this region. This evidence may place the M 7.1 earthquake within the CP.

  • Upon doing my research, I learned that there was a very similar earthquake in this region in 1999. Below are the USGS websites for these two similar earthquakes.
  • 2017.09.19 M 7.1 Puebla, Mexico
  • 1999.06.15 M 7.0 Puebla, Mexico

Click on this link to my first update for this M 7.1 earthquake: UPDATE #1


Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 7.0. I include fault plane solutions for the 1985 and 1995 earthquakes (along with the MMI contours for those earthquakes, see below for a discussion of MMI contours). I also include the moment tensor for the 2017.09.08 M 8.1 and 1999.06.15 M 7.0 earthquakes. I prepared the same poster below that also includes MMI contours for the 1985 M 8.0 earthquake. One may see that for both the 1985 and today’s M 7.1 earthquake, there are similar intensities in Mexico City. The 1985 did have slightly higher MMI intensities (MMI 6 vs. MMI 5.5). We will just need to wait and see as damage reports come in as these MMI contours are simply model based estimates (and the USGS Did You Feel It system was not yet created in 1985). I also include a map below that shows the 2017.09.08 M 8.1 MMI contours for comparison.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper right corner is a figure from Franco et al. (2012) that shows the tectonic plate boundaries in this region. I place a blue star in the general location of this M 8.1 earthquake (as below).
  • In the upper left corner is a figure from Perez and Campos (2008; as presented here) which shows the interpreted geometry of the subducting slab in this region. The profile of the seismic array used as a basis for this interpretation (the MASE array) is denoted by the brown dashed line. This line is also shown on the figure in the lower right corner).
  • In the lower right corner is a figure that shows the slab contours for the Mexico subduction zone (Gérault et al., 2015). I also place a blue star in the general location of today’s earthquake.
  • In the lower left corner is a map showing the same seismicity presented in the main map, but I include MMI contours from the 1999 earthquake. I show where Mexico City is and the ground shaking from 1999 does not have the same intensities (in Mexico City) as does the 2017 M 7.1 earthquake.


  • This shows the MMI contours for the 1985 M 8.0 earthquake.

  • This version includes the MMI contours for the 2017.09.08 M 8.1 earthquake.

  • As I was writing this, the USGS prepared a poster. Below is that poster (also on the earthquake page here.)

  • Here is a comparison of the modeled intensities for three earthquakes, the 1985, 1999, and today’s M 7.1 earthquakes.

  • Here is the Franco et al. (2012) tectonic map.

  • Tectonic setting of the Caribbean Plate. Grey rectangle shows study area of Fig. 2. Faults are mostly from Feuillet et al. (2002). PMF, Polochic–Motagua faults; EF, Enriquillo Fault; TD, Trinidad Fault; GB, Guatemala Basin. Topography and bathymetry are from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (Farr&Kobrick 2000) and Smith & Sandwell (1997), respectively. Plate velocities relative to Caribbean Plate are from Nuvel1 (DeMets et al. 1990) for Cocos Plate, DeMets et al. (2000) for North America Plate and Weber et al. (2001) for South America Plate.

  • Here is the figure from Gérault et al. (2015) that shows the slab contours.

  • (a) Geodynamic context of southwestern Mexico. Topography and bathymetry from ETOPO1 [Amante and Eakins, 2009]. A white curve outlines the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB) [Ferrari et al., 2012]. The black lines show the isodepths of the Cocos slab at a 20 km interval, using seismicity up to ∼45 km depth and tomography below [Kim et al., 2012a]. These slab contours show that distinct topographic domains are associated with variations in slab geometry. The yellow vector shows the relative convergence velocity between the Cocos and North America Plate near Acapulco, holding North America fixed [DeMets et al., 2010]. The pink circles show the locations of the Meso-America Subduction Experiment (MASE) stations. (b) Moho depth (red) and upper slab limit (blue) from Kim et al. [2012a, 2013]. The dashed line shows the simplified Moho depth that we used in the numerical models. (c) Measured and smoothed topography along the MASE profile as a function of the distance from the southernmost seismic station, near Acapulco. The topography is smoothed using three passages of a rectangular sliding average of width 15 km.

    P

  • Here are some figures from Pérez-Campos et al. (2008) that show results from the MASE seismic experiment. First is the map showing the seismic array in the tectonic context.

  • MASE seismic array. Slab isodepth contours from Pardo and Sua´rez [1995] are in blue dashed lines. The dots represent epicenters of M>4 earthquakes, reported by the Servicio Sismolo´gico Nacional (SSN; in pink) from December 2004 through June 2007 and those re-located by Pardo and Sua´rez [1995] (in green). The thick orange line represents the profile of Figures 2 and 3. The arrows indicate the beginning (dark blue) and end (light blue) of the flat segment, and the tip of the slab (red).

  • These authors used receiver functions to estimate the depth to the Cocos plate (the slab depth). Below is their figure showing their results. Receiver function analyses use an array (a linear network, or grid network, but a linear network in this case) of seismometers. “A receiver function technique is a way to model the structure of the Earth by using the information from teleseismic earthquakes recorded at a three component seismograph.” More can be found on this here and here.

  • Receiver function images. The black triangles denote the position of the stations along the profile with elevation exaggerated 10 times. The thick brown line denotes the extent of the TMVB. Seismicity (SSN: pink; Pardo and Sua´rez [1995]: green), within 50 km of the MASE profile, is shown as dots. The bottom left plot shows RFs for one teleseismic event along the flat slab portion of the slab; the bottom middle plot illustrates the corresponding model (LVM = low velocity mantle and OC = oceanic crust). Compressional-wave velocity models A, B, and C shown in the bottom right plot were determined from waveform modeling of RFs. They correspond to the structure at A, B, and C of the bottom left plot.

  • And finally, here is their model of the subducting slab. The authors also use seismic tomography to evaluate the geometry of the plates in this region. Seismic tomography is the same as a CT scan of the Earth. We can think of seismic tomography as a 3-D X-Ray of the Earth, just using seismic waves instead.

  • Composite model: tomographic and RF image showing the flat and descending segments of the slab. The key features are the flat under-plated subduction for 250 km, and the location and truncation of the slab at 500 km. The zone separating the ocean crust from the continental Moho is estimated to be less than 10 km in thickness. NA = North America, C = Cocos, LC = lower crust, LVM = low velocity mantle, OC = oceanic crust.

  • Below is a video that explains seismic tomography from IRIS.

Update 17:25 PST

  • While I was in the bath, I was thinking about the Tehuantepec Ridge (TR; a fracture zone, not really a ridge) may be the location of a tear in the slab of the downgoing Cocos plate. There is a small age offset (of the oceanic crust) on either side of the TR and the dip of the slab is different too. When I got back in bed (I am currently ill), I saw Dr. Jasha Polet’s post showing the cross sections at the locations for these two earthquakes. Whether there is a tear or not, the slab is behaving differently in these locations. This lends credence to the interpretation that these earthquakes are not a foreshock/aftershock sequence. Below I present Dr. Polet’s cross sections, along with a map showing the entire region.
  • Map

  • Northern Cross Section M 7.1. The M 7.1 earthquake is the largest focal mechanism in the easternmost part of the section (the outline is not black like the other focal mechanisms).

  • Southern Cross Section M 8.1. The M 8.1 earthquake is the largest focal mechanism at about 200 km distance (the outline is not black like the other focal mechanisms).

  • Also, Dr. Gavin Hayes (as mentioned above with the earthquake poster) tweeted this interpretation below. This is also posted on the USGS website for this earthquake.

References:

  • Benz, H.M., Dart, R.L., Villaseñor, Antonio, Hayes, G.P., Tarr, A.C., Furlong, K.P., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 a. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-F, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Benz, H.M., Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 b. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Caribbean plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-A, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Franco, A., C. Lasserre H. Lyon-Caen V. Kostoglodov E. Molina M. Guzman-Speziale D. Monterosso V. Robles C. Figueroa W. Amaya E. Barrier L. Chiquin S. Moran O. Flores J. Romero J. A. Santiago M. Manea V. C. Manea, 2012. Fault kinematics in northern Central America and coupling along the subduction interface of the Cocos Plate, from GPS data in Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala and El Salvador in Geophysical Journal International., v. 189, no. 3, p. 1223-1236. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05390.x
  • Franco, S.I., Kostoglodov, V., Larson, K.M., Manea, V.C>, Manea, M., and Santiago, J.A., 2005. Propagation of the 2001–2002 silent earthquake and interplate coupling in the Oaxaca subduction zone, Mexico in Earth Planets Space, v. 57., p. 973-985.
  • Garcia-Casco, A., Projenza, J.A., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., 2011. Subduction Zones of the Caribbean: the sedimentary, magmatic, metamorphic and ore-deposit records UNESCO/iugs igcp Project 546 Subduction Zones of the Caribbean in Geologica Acta, v. 9, no., 3-4, p. 217-224
  • Gérault, M., Husson, L., Miller, M.S., and Humphreys, E.D., 2015. Flat-slab subduction, topography, and mantle dynamics in southwestern Mexico in Tectonics, v. 34, p. 1892-1909, doi:10.1002/2015TC003908.
  • Hayes, G. P., D. J. Wald, and R. L. Johnson, 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Lay et al., 2011. Outer trench-slope faulting and the 2011 Mw 9.0 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake in Earth Planets Space, v. 63, p. 713-718.
  • Manea, M., and Manea, V.C., 2014. On the origin of El Chichón volcano and subduction of Tehuantepec Ridge: A geodynamical perspective in JGVR, v. 175, p. 459-471.
  • Mann, P., 2007, Overview of the tectonic history of northern Central America, in Mann, P., ed., Geologic and tectonic development of the Caribbean plate boundary in northern Central America: Geological Society of America Special Paper 428, p. 1–19, doi: 10.1130/2007.2428(01). For
  • McCann, W.R., Nishenko S.P., Sykes, L.R., and Krause, J., 1979. Seismic Gaps and Plate Tectonics” Seismic Potential for Major Boundaries in Pageoph, v. 117
  • Pérez-Campos, Z., Kim, Y., Husker, A., Davis, P.M. ,Clayton, R.W., Iglesias,k A., Pacheco, J.F., Singh, S.K., Manea, V.C., and Gurnis, M., 2008. Horizontal subduction and truncation of the Cocos Plate beneath central Mexico in GRL, v. 35, doi:10.1029/2008GL035127
  • Symithe, S., E. Calais, J. B. de Chabalier, R. Robertson, and M. Higgins, 2015. Current block motions and strain accumulation on active faults in the Caribbean in J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, v. 120, p. 3748–3774, doi:10.1002/2014JB011779.

Posted in Uncategorized

Earthquake Report: Chiapas, Mexico Update #1

Well, after about 4 hours sleep, my business partner woke me up to talk about the fire alarms we were installing in a rental (#safetyfirst). Now that I have had some breakfast, I here provide some additional observations that people have made since I prepared my initial report.

Below I present some figures about the Tehuantepec Seismic Gap (as before, but with additional figures). The impetus for this is two fold: (1) it is interesting for earthquake geologists as they consider earthquake recurrence patterns, globally and (2) that the M 8.1 earthquake was not a subduction zone earthquake and may have loaded the megathrust.

  1. The topic of seismic gaps is a long conversation that I don’t currently have the time to delve into (need to grout some tile, paint some trim, edit a conference paper, etc.). But I will revisit this later. If one wants to read the latest science about seismic gaps, check out the papers regardign the Shumagin Gap. There are now papers that suggest the gap exists and that the gap does not exist. More on that some other time.
  2. The M 8.1 earthquake was an extensional earthquake in the downgoing Cocos plate. While a formal analysis needs to occur, I hypothesize that the megathrust fault probably has an increased coulomb stress following the M 8.1 earthquake. I present a figure below from Lay et al. (2011) that is an imperfect analogy. Others will need to do the modeling. Either way, the region will hopefully be continued to be prepared for a subduction zone earthquake in this region. It is possible that this region may not have Great subduction zone earthquakes (M > 8), but as always, hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 8.0. I include fault plane solutions for the 1985 earthquake (along with the MMI contours for that earthquake, see below for a discussion of MMI contours).

I outline the region of seismicity from June 2017. I include posters and links to the reports from that sequence below.

I also outline the region of the megathrust where the Tehuantepec Seismic Gap is located, generally in the region of the M 7.8 1902 megathrust earthquake. The Tehuantepec Ridge is a player in the regional tectonics as I discussed on my report earlier today.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. Note how much larger the MMI intensity is for this earthquake, compared to the 1985 and 1995 earthquakes.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the lower left corner is a figure from Franco et al. (2012) that shows the tectonic plate boundaries in this region. I place a blue star in the general location of this M 8.1 earthquake (as below).
  • In the upper right corner is a figure from McCann et al. (1979) showing the major subduction zone earthquakes associated with the subduction zone that forms the Middle America Trench. This is the first (?) acknowledgement for the potential of a seismic gap in the region of today’s M 8.1 earthquake.


  • Here is the initial report poster as presented in my initial Earthquake Report here.

  • Here are two views of the earthquake as recorded on Humboldt State University Department of Geology’s Baby Benioff seismometer. The photos are from Dr. Lori Dengler and were taken in the hallway in Van Matre Hall. Click on the image for a high res version (2 and 5 MB files).


  • Here is the Franco et al. (2012) tectonic map.

  • Tectonic setting of the Caribbean Plate. Grey rectangle shows study area of Fig. 2. Faults are mostly from Feuillet et al. (2002). PMF, Polochic–Motagua faults; EF, Enriquillo Fault; TD, Trinidad Fault; GB, Guatemala Basin. Topography and bathymetry are from Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (Farr&Kobrick 2000) and Smith & Sandwell (1997), respectively. Plate velocities relative to Caribbean Plate are from Nuvel1 (DeMets et al. 1990) for Cocos Plate, DeMets et al. (2000) for North America Plate and Weber et al. (2001) for South America Plate.

  • Here is an updated list of observations of the trans-Pacific tsunami.

  • This is an update of the tide gage record at Salina Cruz in Oahaca, Mexico. It has been 15 hours and the tsunami waves are still significant (not as large amplitude as the initial few waves, but still potentially dangerous).

  • Here is the McCann et al. (1979) summary figure.

  • Rupture zones (ellipses) and epicenters (triangles and circles) of large shallow earthquakes (after KELLEHER et al., 1973) and bathymetry (CHASE et al., 1970) along the Middle America arc. Note that six gaps which have earthquake histories have not ruptured for 40 years or more. In contrast, the gap near the intersection of the Tehuantepec ridge has no known history of large shocks. Contours are in fathoms.

  • This is a more updated figure from Franco et al. (2005) showing the seismic gap.
  • In 1902, there was an M 7.8 earthquake in the same region as tonight’s M 8.1. Here is a map from Franco et al. (2015) that shows the rupture patches for historic earthquakes in this region.

  • The study area encompasses Guerrero and Oaxaca states of Mexico. Shaded ellipse-like areas annotated with the years are rupture areas of the most recent major thrust earthquakes (M≥6.5) in the Mexican subduction zone. Triangles show locations of permanent GPS stations. Small hexagons indicate campaign GPS sites. Arrows are the Cocos-North America convergence vectors from NUVEL-1A model (DeMets et al., 1994). Double head arrow shows the extent of the Guerrero seismic gap. Solid and dashed curves annotated with negative numbers show the depth in km down to the surface of subducting Cocos plate (modified from Pardo and Su´arez, 1995, using the plate interface configuration model for the Central Oaxaca from this study, the model for Guerrero from Kostoglodov et al. (1996), and the last seismological estimates in Chiapas by Bravo et al. (2004). MAT, Middle America trench.

  • Here is a cross section showing focal mechanisms for this region, prepared by Dr. Mike Brudzinski.

  • Below are a map and cross section showing focal mechanisms for this region from Dr. Jascha Polet.


  • Late breaking update from Jascha. Dr. Polet plotted the aftershocks to find that there is a clear NW rupture trend. Dr. Polet also points out that the aftershocks are in a narrow band, suggesting a steeply dipping fault. Also, they suggest that this is a short rupture (length ~200km) for a M 8.1 earthquake.

  • Here is a great audio video representation of the seismic record from Hurricane Irma and this M 8.1 earthquake from Zhigang Peng.
  • Here are a couple visualizations of the seismic waves as they propagate through the seismic network. These animations are produced by IRIS here.
  • Here is a figure from Lay et al, (2011) that shows how stresses change on various types of faults given slip on the megathrust. A very simplistic way of applying this to today’s scenario would be that instead of an increasted stress on normal faults imparted by the megathrust earthquake (as in Japan), that there may be an increased coulomb stress on the megathrust imparted by the normal fault earthquake (as in Mexico). This is pure arm waving (as one would expect from a geologist), but I hope that someone does the analysis soon. I suspect that Tremblor.com will have something on this very soon.

References:

  • Benz, H.M., Dart, R.L., Villaseñor, Antonio, Hayes, G.P., Tarr, A.C., Furlong, K.P., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 a. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-F, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Benz, H.M., Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 b. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Caribbean plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-A, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Franco, A., C. Lasserre H. Lyon-Caen V. Kostoglodov E. Molina M. Guzman-Speziale D. Monterosso V. Robles C. Figueroa W. Amaya E. Barrier L. Chiquin S. Moran O. Flores J. Romero J. A. Santiago M. Manea V. C. Manea, 2012. Fault kinematics in northern Central America and coupling along the subduction interface of the Cocos Plate, from GPS data in Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala and El Salvador in Geophysical Journal International., v. 189, no. 3, p. 1223-1236. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05390.x
  • Franco, S.I., Kostoglodov, V., Larson, K.M., Manea, V.C>, Manea, M., and Santiago, J.A., 2005. Propagation of the 2001–2002 silent earthquake and interplate coupling in the Oaxaca subduction zone, Mexico in Earth Planets Space, v. 57., p. 973-985.
  • Garcia-Casco, A., Projenza, J.A., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., 2011. Subduction Zones of the Caribbean: the sedimentary, magmatic, metamorphic and ore-deposit records UNESCO/iugs igcp Project 546 Subduction Zones of the Caribbean in Geologica Acta, v. 9, no., 3-4, p. 217-224
  • Hayes, G. P., D. J. Wald, and R. L. Johnson, 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Lay et al., 2011. Outer trench-slope faulting and the 2011 Mw 9.0 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake in Earth Planets Space, v. 63, p. 713-718.
  • Manea, M., and Manea, V.C., 2014. On the origin of El Chichón volcano and subduction of Tehuantepec Ridge: A geodynamical perspective in JGVR, v. 175, p. 459-471.
  • Mann, P., 2007, Overview of the tectonic history of northern Central America, in Mann, P., ed., Geologic and tectonic development of the Caribbean plate boundary in northern Central America: Geological Society of America Special Paper 428, p. 1–19, doi: 10.1130/2007.2428(01). For
  • McCann, W.R., Nishenko S.P., Sykes, L.R., and Krause, J., 1979. Seismic Gaps and Plate Tectonics” Seismic Potential for Major Boundaries in Pageoph, v. 117
  • Symithe, S., E. Calais, J. B. de Chabalier, R. Robertson, and M. Higgins, 2015. Current block motions and strain accumulation on active faults in the Caribbean in J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, v. 120, p. 3748–3774, doi:10.1002/2014JB011779.

Posted in earthquake, education, geology, mexico, pacific, plate tectonics, subduction, tsunami

Earthquake Report: Chiapas, Mexico

While I was spending time with my friend Steve Tillinghast (he is getting married on Saturday), there was a Great Earthquake offshore of Chiapas, Mexico. This is one of four M 8 or greater earthquakes ever recorded along the subduction zone forming the Middle American Trench. There has recently been some seismic activity to the east of this current M 8.1 earthquake. These earthquakes happened near the boundary between the North America (NAP) and Caribbean (CP) upper plates.

This M 8.1 earthquake happened in a region of the subduction zone that is interpreted to have a higher coupling ratio than further to the south (higher proportion of the plate convergence rate is accumulated as elastic strain due to seismogenic coupling of the megathrust fault). Faults that are aseismic (fully slipping) have a coupling ratio of zero. The Polochic-Motagua fault zone marks this NAP-CP boundary. The recent seismicity offshore of Guatemala (June 2017) comprised a series of thrust earthquakes along the upper megathrust, along with some down-dip extensional faulting.

Tonight’s earthquake will be a very damaging and deadly earthquake and, based upon the shake map, possibly more damaging than either the 1985 or 1995 earthquakes. The 1985 earthquake caused severe damage in Mexico City. The PAGER alert shows an estimate of 34% probability for between 1000 and 10,000 fatalities. However, please read below about the PAGER alert and go to the USGS website about PAGER alerts (link below). These are just model based estimates of damage, so we won’t really know the damage until this is evaluated with “boots on the ground.” One might consider PAGER alerts to be the “armchair estimate” of damage. Thanks to Dr. Lori Dengler for reviewing my report (though any mistakes are only to be credited to me).

This M 8.1 earthquake is deeper than the megathrust fault and has an extensional moment tensor. This is not a megathrust earthquake, but is related to slip on a fault in the downgoing Cocos plate. At this depth, it may be due to bending in the downgoing oceanic lithosphere.

There is no danger of a tsunami here along the west coast of the U.S. West Coast, British Colombia, or Alaska. There have been some tsunami observations

  • Here are the USGS web pages for these four Great Earthquakes.
  • 1932.06.03 M 8.1 Jalisco, Mexico
  • 1985.09.19 M 8.0 Colima, Mexico
  • 1995.10.09 M 8.0 Colima, Mexico
  • 2017.09.08 M 8.1 Chiapas, Mexico

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 8.0. I include fault plane solutions for the 1985 and 1995 earthquakes (along with the MMI contours for those earthquakes, see below for a discussion of MMI contours).

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. Note how much larger the MMI intensity is for this earthquake, compared to the 1985 and 1995 earthquakes.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the lower left corner is a map from Mann (2007) that shows the regional tectonics. Plate boundary faults are in bold line, while lineations representing the spreading history are represented by thinner lines. I place a blue star in the general location of tonight’s M 8.1 earthquake (also in other inset maps).
  • in the upper right corner is a map showing USGS seismicity in this region (Benz et al., 2011 a). To the left I present their cross section B-B’ showing USGS hypocenters. This cross section is shown as a blue line on the map.
  • In the upper left corner is the USGS fault slip model.
  • In the lower right corner is a map that shows the Tehuantepec Ridge and how the oceanic lithosphere varies across this boundary. The crust has different ages on either side of this transform fault, which can control the stresses imposed upon the fault on either side of this fault.


  • Here is the same poster, but shows seismicity with earthquakes of smaller magnitudes (M 7).

  • As mentioned above, this earthquake has the potential to cause much harm to people and their belongings and infrastructure. Below is the USGS report that includes estimates of damage to people (possible fatalities) and their belongings from the Rapid Assessment of an Earthquake’s Impact (PAGER) report. More on the PAGER program can be found here. An explanation of a PAGER report can be found here. PAGER reports are modeled estimates of damage. On the top is a histogram showing estimated casualties and on the right is an estimate of possible economic losses. This PAGER report suggests that there will be quite a bit of damage from this earthquake (and casualties). This earthquake has a high probability of damage to people and their belongings.

  • Here is the threat forecast from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The below all come from this report.
  • TSUNAMI THREAT FORECAST
    ———————–

    * TSUNAMI WAVES REACHING MORE THAN 3 METERS ABOVE THE TIDE
    LEVEL ARE POSSIBLE ALONG SOME COASTS OF

    MEXICO.

    * TSUNAMI WAVES REACHING 0.3 TO 1 METERS ABOVE THE TIDE LEVEL
    ARE POSSIBLE FOR SOME COASTS OF

    AMERICAN SAMOA… ANTARCTICA… COOK ISLANDS… ECUADOR…
    EL SALVADOR… FIJI… FRENCH POLYNESIA… GUATEMALA…
    KIRIBATI… NEW ZEALAND… SAMOA… TOKELAU… TUVALU…
    VANUATU… AND WALLIS AND FUTUNA.

    * TSUNAMI WAVES ARE FORECAST TO BE LESS THAN 0.3 METERS ABOVE
    THE TIDE LEVEL FOR THE COASTS OF

    AUSTRALIA… CHILE… CHINA… CHUUK… COLOMBIA… COSTA
    RICA… GUAM… HAWAII… HONDURAS… HOWLAND AND BAKER…
    INDONESIA… JAPAN… JARVIS ISLAND… JOHNSTON ATOLL…
    KERMADEC ISLANDS… KOSRAE… MALAYSIA… MARSHALL
    ISLANDS… MIDWAY ISLAND… NAURU… NEW CALEDONIA…
    NICARAGUA… NIUE… NORTHERN MARIANAS… NORTHWESTERN
    HAWAIIAN ISLANDS… PALAU… PALMYRA ISLAND… PANAMA…
    PAPUA NEW GUINEA… PERU… PHILIPPINES… PITCAIRN
    ISLANDS… POHNPEI… RUSSIA… SOLOMON ISLANDS…
    TAIWAN… TONGA… VIETNAM… WAKE ISLAND… AND YAP.

  • Here are the arrival time estimates. The below all come from this report.
  • ESTIMATED TIMES OF ARRIVAL
    ————————–

    * ESTIMATED TIMES OF ARRIVAL -ETA- OF THE INITIAL TSUNAMI WAVE
    FOR PLACES WITHIN THREATENED REGIONS ARE GIVEN BELOW. ACTUAL
    ARRIVAL TIMES MAY DIFFER AND THE INITIAL WAVE MAY NOT BE THE
    LARGEST. A TSUNAMI IS A SERIES OF WAVES AND THE TIME BETWEEN
    WAVES CAN BE FIVE MINUTES TO ONE HOUR.


  • Here are the tsunami observations. The below all come from this report.
  • TSUNAMI OBSERVATIONS
    ——————–

    * THE FOLLOWING ARE TSUNAMI WAVE OBSERVATIONS FROM COASTAL
    AND/OR DEEP-OCEAN SEA LEVEL GAUGES AT THE INDICATED
    LOCATIONS. THE MAXIMUM TSUNAMI HEIGHT IS MEASURED WITH
    RESPECT TO THE NORMAL TIDE LEVEL.


  • Here is a map showing the spreading ridge features, along with the plate boundary faults (Mann, 2007). This is similar to the inset map in the interpretive poster.

  • Marine magnetic anomalies and fracture zones that constrain tectonic reconstructions such as those shown in Figure 4 (ages of anomalies are keyed to colors as explained in the legend; all anomalies shown are from University of Texas Institute for Geophysics PLATES [2000] database): (1) Boxed area in solid blue line is area of anomaly and fracture zone picks by Leroy et al. (2000) and Rosencrantz (1994); (2) boxed area in dashed purple line shows anomalies and fracture zones of Barckhausen et al. (2001) for the Cocos plate; (3) boxed area in dashed green line shows anomalies and fracture zones from Wilson and Hey (1995); and (4) boxed area in red shows anomalies and fracture zones from Wilson (1996). Onland outcrops in green are either the obducted Cretaceous Caribbean large igneous province, including the Siuna belt, or obducted ophiolites unrelated to the large igneous province (Motagua ophiolites). The magnetic anomalies and fracture zones record the Cenozoic relative motions of all divergent plate pairs infl uencing the Central American subduction zone (Caribbean, Nazca, Cocos, North America, and South America). When incorporated into a plate model, these anomalies and fracture zones provide important constraints on the age and thickness of subducted crust, incidence angle of subduction, and rate of subduction for the Central American region. MCSC—Mid-Cayman Spreading Center.

  • Here is the Manea and Manea (2007) map showing the lithospheric contrast across the Tehuantepec Ridge, a fracture zone.

  • Generalized tectonic map of the study area. Transparent red zones show the location of active volcanic belts in México: CMVB — Central Mexican Volcanic Belt, MCVA — Modern Chiapanecan Volcanic Arc. Transparent gray area: the extinct Sierra Madre Miocenic Arc. Orange stars are the El Chichón and San Martin active volcanoes. EPR — East Pacific Rise. MAT — Middle American Trench. Right black dashed line with a question mark is the hypothetical prolongation of Polochic–Montagua fault system which represents the limit between North America (NAM) and Caribbean plates. White dashed line is the onshore prolongation of Tehuantepec Ridge. Onshore white contours represent the slab isodepths (Bravo et al., 2004; Pardo and Suarez, 1995). Arrows show convergence velocities between the Cocos and North American plates (DeMets et al., 1994). TR1 and TR2 are the cross-sections where we calculate the thermal structure across TR (Fig. 10). Cocos plate ages are from Manea et al. (2005). White line dashed squares show the location of magnetic and gravity maps (Figs. 3, 5, 6). Blue dots represent continental heat-flow measurements (mW/m2) from Ziagos et al. (1985).

  • This figure from Rebollar et al., 1999 shows focal mechanisms for some earthauakes in this area. Earthquake 6C has a similar mechanism and location as tonight’s M 8.1 earthquake.

  • However, this is the cross section from Rebollar et al. (1999) that shows earthquake 6C to be much much shallower.

  • In 1902, there was an M 7.8 earthquake in the same region as tonight’s M 8.1. Here is a map from Franco et al. (2015) that shows the rupture patches for historic earthquakes in this region.

  • The study area encompasses Guerrero and Oaxaca states of Mexico. Shaded ellipse-like areas annotated with the years are rupture areas of the most recent major thrust earthquakes (M≥6.5) in the Mexican subduction zone. Triangles show locations of permanent GPS stations. Small hexagons indicate campaign GPS sites. Arrows are the Cocos-North America convergence vectors from NUVEL-1A model (DeMets et al., 1994). Double head arrow shows the extent of the Guerrero seismic gap. Solid and dashed curves annotated with negative numbers show the depth in km down to the surface of subducting Cocos plate (modified from Pardo and Su´arez, 1995, using the plate interface configuration model for the Central Oaxaca from this study, the model for Guerrero from Kostoglodov et al. (1996), and the last seismological estimates in Chiapas by Bravo et al. (2004). MAT, Middle America trench.

  • Initially, I forgot to include these figures from Franco et al. (2012). These figures show various estimates of the amount of seismogenic coupling along the megathrust. I include these because the M 8.1 earthquake happened in this region of higher seismogenic coupling.

  • Inverted coupling coefficients along the MFe, MFc, MATch and MATgs, and residual velocities for best-fitting 3B model.


    Same as Fig. 7 for best-fitting 4B model, with coupling along VAF fixed to 1.


    Proposed model of faults kinematics and coupling along the Cocos slab interface, revised from Lyon-Caen et al. (2006). Numbers are velocities relative to CA plate in mmyr−1. Focal mechanisms are for crustal earthquakes (depth ≤30 km) since 1976, from CMT Harvard catalogue.

References:

  • Benz, H.M., Dart, R.L., Villaseñor, Antonio, Hayes, G.P., Tarr, A.C., Furlong, K.P., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 a. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Mexico and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-F, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Benz, H.M., Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 2011 b. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Caribbean plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-A, scale 1:8,000,000.
  • Franco, A., C. Lasserre H. Lyon-Caen V. Kostoglodov E. Molina M. Guzman-Speziale D. Monterosso V. Robles C. Figueroa W. Amaya E. Barrier L. Chiquin S. Moran O. Flores J. Romero J. A. Santiago M. Manea V. C. Manea, 2012. Fault kinematics in northern Central America and coupling along the subduction interface of the Cocos Plate, from GPS data in Chiapas (Mexico), Guatemala and El Salvador in Geophysical Journal International., v. 189, no. 3, p. 1223-1236. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05390.x
  • Franco, S.I., Kostoglodov, V., Larson, K.M., Manea, V.C>, Manea, M., and Santiago, J.A., 2005. Propagation of the 2001–2002 silent earthquake and interplate coupling in the Oaxaca subduction zone, Mexico in Earth Planets Space, v. 57., p. 973-985.
  • Garcia-Casco, A., Projenza, J.A., Iturralde-Vinent, M.A., 2011. Subduction Zones of the Caribbean: the sedimentary, magmatic, metamorphic and ore-deposit records UNESCO/iugs igcp Project 546 Subduction Zones of the Caribbean in Geologica Acta, v. 9, no., 3-4, p. 217-224
  • Hayes, G. P., D. J. Wald, and R. L. Johnson, 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Manea, M., and Manea, V.C., 2014. On the origin of El Chichón volcano and subduction of Tehuantepec Ridge: A geodynamical perspective in JGVR, v. 175, p. 459-471.
  • Mann, P., 2007, Overview of the tectonic history of northern Central America, in Mann, P., ed., Geologic and tectonic development of the Caribbean plate boundary in northern Central America: Geological Society of America Special Paper 428, p. 1–19, doi: 10.1130/2007.2428(01). For
  • Symithe, S., E. Calais, J. B. de Chabalier, R. Robertson, and M. Higgins, 2015. Current block motions and strain accumulation on active faults in the Caribbean in J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, v. 120, p. 3748–3774, doi:10.1002/2014JB011779.

Posted in earthquake, education, geology, mexico, pacific, plate tectonics, subduction

Earthquake Report: Bear Lake fault, Idaho

We are still having a series of earthquakes in southeastern Idaho. This earthquake appears related to the Bear Valley fault (BVF) system, which is a normal fault system related to extension in the Basin and Range geomorphic province. Here is the USGS web page for this M 5.3 earthquake.

This part of Idaho has a geologic basement that was folded and faulted during the Sevier Orogeny, a period of compressional tectonics between approximately 140 million years (Ma) ago and 50 Ma. Basin and Range extension occurred at a much later time, in the Late Cenozoic (e.g. in northwestern Nevada, it has been demonstrated that the extension is post 15-17 Ma (Colgan et al., 2004, 2006).

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 3.0.

I also include the USGS moment tensor for today’s earthquake. While it is possible that either nodal plane is correct, read below to see how I interpret today’s earthquake given the publications I include in this report (see discussion about inset figures).

Based upon the existing fault geometry, and the seismicity, the BVF may extend further to the north. I include a large scale map below showing this.

I include some moment tensors from some other significant earthquakes in the region. The Hebgen Lake earthquakes happened in 1959. There is a great earthquake museum at Earthquake Lake, which has some good interpretive displays (and a great view of the lake and some ghost forests). The M 6.9 Borah Peak earthquakes happened in 1983. There was a swarm of earthquakes in the Wells, NV area in 2008. I also have placed a moment tensor and a focal mechanism from some of the normal faulting earthquakes nearby (1994 and 2001).

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. Based upon the series of earthquakes and the mapped faults, I interpret this M 5.1 earthquake as an east dipping normal fault (a northern unmapped extension of the west Bear Valley fault). The depths are currently not of high enough certainty to really tell if this is incorrect (but it may be).
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner is a map from Reheis et al., 2009 that shows the major active faults in the region, along with state lines, and an inset locator map. I placed a blue star in the general location of today’s earthquake (similarly in other figures). Below the blue star is Bear Lake, which can be found in other maps and figures as well. Bear Lake is located in a basin being formed by the downdropping of the crust due to slip along normal faults on the eastern and western boundaries of this basin. Based upon today’s earthquakes, it appears that the western BVF extends beneath the eastern BVF (at least in this region, since the earthquakes are beneath the mountain formed to the east of an unmapped segment of the eastern BVF).
  • In the lower right corner is another map from Reheis et al., 2009, which shows the regional bedrock and faulting, along with Bear Lake. Note that the M 5.3 earthquake is to the north of this map.
  • To the left of this geologic map is a general tectonic mpa for Idaho (Kuntz et al., 1992). This shows the geomorphic provinces that include the Snake River Plain to the northwest of these basin and range faults.
  • In the lower left corner is a map showing the bathymetry of Bear Lake (McCalpin, 2003 and references therein). To the right are some line drawings of seismic reflection profiles across the lake. There have been some more modern studies since then, which show similar findings (and additional faulting).
  • In the upper right corner I include a larger scale map that shows the distribution of earthquakes (as I type this report, they are still happening), outlined in dashed yellow. I include a delineation of a USGS earthquake scenario for the east Bear Valley fault, which is estimated to be a M 7.3 earthquake. Note how the earthquakes today are to the north of this scenario fault. The USGS page for this M 7.3 Scenario Earthquake is here.


  • Here is a large scale map showing today’s earthquakes along with the USGS Active Fault and Fold Database. Note the northern terminus of the East BVF (green line south of the earthquakes and north of Bear Valley Lake). Note the northern terminus of the Eastern BVF (blue line to the west of the green line). Today’s earthquakes are convincing evidence that the West BVF may extend further north than is mapped (and that it may dip beneath the East BVF). It could also be more complicated and not associated with the BVF at all.


  • Here is the medium scale tectonic map from Reheis et al. (2009).

  • Location index map (inset) and regional setting, including drainages (blue) and principal Quaternary faults (red; modified from U.S. Geological Survey, 2004). Red hachured lines are boundaries of Quaternary calderas. Red dashed line is axis of high elevations within tectonic “parabola” of Pierce and Morgan (1992). CV—Cache Valley; GV—Gem Valley; GVF—Grand Valley fault; SS—Soda Springs; SVF—Star Valley fault. Box shows area of Figure 4.

  • Here is the larger scale map from Reheis et al. (2009).

  • Generalized geologic map of Bear River Valley (dashed outline), modified from several sources (Bond, 1978; Hintz, 1980; Love and Christiansen, 1985; Gibbons, 1986; Bryant, 1992; Coogan and King, 2001; and Reheis, 2005).

  • Here is the seismic reflection data summarized by McCalpin (2003).

  • Seismic-reflection profiles from Bear Lake. From Skeen (1976).

  • Here is a more modern seismic reflection data set (boomer seismic). This profile shows that the eastern BVF has a higher slip rate (or is more recently more active). These authors found evidence for additional mid-basin faults as well.

  • Seismic profile (boomer system) along the entire length of line 28. Location shown in Fig. 1. Boxes labeled in their lower right corners indicate the location of data shown in correspondingly numbered figures. Top of bedrock is shown on the western margin of the profile and reflectors R1–R7 are shown in the deep part of the basin.

  • Given my background, I enjoyed viewing this figure from Coleman, 2006. This figure shows how they correlated teh seismic data to the stratigraphy observed in a sediment core collected by C. Heil.

  • Correlation among the lithology of BL00-1E, magnetic susceptibility (C. Heil, written commun., 2001) and the acoustic-reflection data (boomer system) at the site.

  • Here is a map that shows the details of the secondary (mid basin) faults that this author observed (Colemen, 2006). Faults like this accommodate slip on earthquakes that is not accounted for when only looking at the primary faults, the range forming faults at the edge of the basin. These faults can be easily imaged when the basin is filled with water. So, where basins are not filled with water, secondary faults like these may not be well documented (which affects our ability to evaluate seismic hazards).

  • Map showing the distribution of secondary faults observed on acoustic-reflection profiles.

  • There was an earthquake in 1884 that may be an analogue to today’s earthquake (roughly). The M 6.3 earthquake happened on an east dipping fault, antithetic to the east BVF. Below are two maps from Evans et al., 2003.

  • Geologic map of the study area; data are from Oriel and Platt (1980), Dover (1995), and Janecke and Evans (1999). Normal faults bound basins that are superimposed on Sevier folds and thrusts. The inset map shows the location of the study area in the Intermontain Seismic Belt.


    Digital elevation model of the area north of the Bear Lake, with the surface trace of faults interpreted by Robertson (1978) and J. P. McCalpin. Both the West and East Bear Lake faults have produced surface ruptures in the past 10,000 years due to slip from M ≥ 7 earthquakes (McCalpin, 1993). Scarps up to 8 m high are reported for the West Bear Lake fault (Robertson, 1978; Mccalpin, 2003) indicate that these faults have the potential for ground-rupturing earthquakes.

    References:

  • Coleman, S.M., 2006. Acoustic stratigraphy of Bear Lake, Utah–Idaho—Late Quaternary sedimentation patterns in a simple half-graben in Sedimentary Geology, v. 185, p/ 113-125
  • Colgan, J.P., Dumitru, T.A., and Miller, E.L., 2004. Diachroneity of Basin and Range extension and Yellowstone hotspot volcanism in northwestern Nevada in Geology, v. 32, no. 2., p. 121-124 DOI 10.1130/G20037.1
  • Colgan, J.P., Dumitru, T.A., McWilliams, M., and Miller, E., 2006. Timing of Cenozoic volcanism and Basin and Range extension in northwestern Nevada: New constraints from the northern Pine Forest Range in GSA Bulletin, v. 118, no. 1/2, p. 126-139, doi: 10.1130/B25681.1
  • Kuntz, M.A., Covington, H. R., and Schorr, L. J., 1992, An overview of basaltic volcanism of the eastern Snake River Plain, Idaho, in Link, P. K., Kuntz, M. A., and Platt, L. P., eds., Regional geology of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming: Geological Society of America Memoir 179, p. 227-267.
  • McCalpin, J.P., 2003. Neotectonics of Bear Lake Valley, Utah and Idaho; A Preliminary Assessment in Miscellaneous Publication 03-4, Utah Geological Survey, ISBN 1-55791-694-2, 50 pp.
  • Reheis, M.C., Laabs, B.J.C., and Kaufman, D.S., 2009, Geology and geomorphology of Bear Lake Valley and upper Bear River, Utah and Idaho, in Rosenbaum, J.G., and Kaufman D.S., eds., Paleoenvironments of Bear Lake, Utah and Idaho, and its catchment: Geological Society of America Special Paper 450, p. 15–48, doi: 10.1130/2009.2450(02)

Posted in earthquake, education, Extension, geology, plate tectonics

Earthquake Report: Mentawai, Sumatra

We just had an earthquake in the Mentawai region of the Sunda subduction zone offshore of Sumatra. Here is the USGS website for this M 6.3 earthquake.

Based upon the hypocentral depth and the current estimate of the location of the subduction zone fault, this appears to be a subduction zone interface earthquake.

This M 6.3 earthquake happened near the location of an M 7.6 earthquake on 2009.09.30. Here is the USGS website for this M 7.6 earthquake. The M 7.6 earthquake was deep in the downgoing slab (oceanic crust of the India-Australia plate).

There was an M 6.4 earthquake further to the south on 2017.08.13 and here is my report for that earthquake. These two earthquakes are probably not related.

Today’s earthquake happened in a region of the subduction zone that has not yet ruptured in recent times (with a large magnitude earthquake). The city of Padang, due East of this earthquake, is low lying with millions of people living and working at elevations of less than a few meters. The residents of Padang have a high exposure to earthquake and tsunami risk associated with this subduction zone. Today’s earthquake also happened in a region of the subduction zone that may have a lower amount of seismic coupling (i.e. a lower amount of “stick” on the fault). See the Chlieh et al. (2008) figures in this report and poster.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 7.5.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner, I include a map from Hayes et al. (2013) that shows the epicenters of earthquakes from the past century or so. There is also a cross section that is in the region of the 2007 and 2017 M 8.4 and M 6.4 earthquakes. I also placed a C-C’ green line on the main map to show where this cross section is compared to the other features on my map. I placed a blue star in the general location of the M 6.4 earthquake.
  • In the upper right corner, I include a map I made that delineates the spatial extent for historic earthquakes along the Sunda Megathrust. This came from a paper that I had submitted to Marine Geology. I include this figure below with attributions to the publications that I used as references for this map.
  • In the lower right corner, I present a figure from Chlieh et al. (2008 ). These authors use GPS and coral geodetic and paleogeodetic data to constrain the proportion of the plate motion rates that are accumulated as tectonic strain along the megathrust fault. Basically, this means how much % that the fault is storing energy to be released in subduction zone earthquakes. This is just a model and is limited by the temporal and spatial extent of their observations which form the basis for their model. However, this is a well respected approach to estimate the potential for future earthquake (given the assumptions that I here mention).


  • Here is the interpretive poster for the M 6.4 earthquake from 2017.08.13.

  • Here is my map. I include the references below in blockquote.

  • Sumatra core location and plate setting map with sedimentary and erosive systems figure. A. India-Australia plate subducts northeastwardly beneath the Sunda plate (part of Eurasia) at modern rates (GPS velocities are based on regional modeling of Bock et al, 2003 as plotted in Subarya et al., 2006). Historic earthquake ruptures (Bilham, 2005; Malik et al., 2011) are plotted in orange. 2004 earthquake and 2005 earthquake 5 meter slip contours are plotted in orange and green respectively (Chlieh et al., 2007, 2008). Bengal and Nicobar fans cover structures of the India-Australia plate in the northern part of the map. RR0705 cores are plotted as light blue. SRTM bathymetry and topography is in shaded relief and colored vs. depth/elevation (Smith and Sandwell, 1997). B. Schematic illustration of geomorphic elements of subduction zone trench and slope sedimentary settings. Submarine channels, submarine canyons, dune fields and sediment waves, abyssal plain, trench axis, plunge pool, apron fans, and apron fan channels are labeled here. Modified from Patton et al. (2013 a).

  • This is the main figure from Hayes et al. (2013) from the Seismicity of the Earth series. There is a map with the slab contours and seismicity both colored vs. depth. There are also some cross sections of seismicity plotted, with locations shown on the map.

  • Here is a great figure from Philobosian et al. (2014) that shows the slip patches from the subduction zone earthquakes in this region.

  • Map of Southeast Asia showing recent and selected historical ruptures of the Sunda megathrust. Black lines with sense of motion are major plate-bounding faults, and gray lines are seafloor fracture zones. Motions of Australian and Indian plates relative to Sunda plate are from the MORVEL-1 global model [DeMets et al., 2010]. The fore-arc sliver between the Sunda megathrust and the strike-slip Sumatran Fault becomes the Burma microplate farther north, but this long, thin strip of crust does not necessarily all behave as a rigid block. Sim = Simeulue, Ni = Nias, Bt = Batu Islands, and Eng = Enggano. Brown rectangle centered at 2°S, 99°E delineates the area of Figure 3, highlighting the Mentawai Islands. Figure adapted from Meltzner et al. [2012] with rupture areas and magnitudes from Briggs et al. [2006], Konca et al. [2008], Meltzner et al. [2010], Hill et al. [2012], and references therein.

  • This is a figure from Philobosian et al. (2012) that shows a larger scale view for the slip patches in this region. Note that today’s earthquake happened at the edge of the 7.9 earthquake slip patch.

  • Recent and ancient ruptures along the Mentawai section of the Sunda megathrust. Colored patches are surface projections of 1-m slip contours of the deep megathrust ruptures on 12–13 September 2007 (pink to red) and the shallow rupture on 25 October 2010 (green). Dashed rectangles indicate roughly the sections that ruptured in 1797 and 1833. Ancient ruptures are adapted from Natawidjaja et al. [2006] and recent ones come from Konca et al. [2008] and Hill et al. (submitted manuscript, 2012). Labeled points indicate coral study sites Sikici (SKC), Pasapuat (PSP), Simanganya (SMY), Pulau Pasir (PSR), and Bulasat (BLS).

  • Here are a series of figures from Chlieh et al. (2008 ) that show their data sources and their modeling results. I include their figure captions below in blockquote.
  • This figure shows the coupling model (on the left) and the source data for their inversions (on the right). Their source data are vertical deformation rates as measured along coral microattols. These are from data prior to the 2004 SASZ earthquake.

  • Distribution of coupling on the Sumatra megathrust derived from the formal inversion of the coral and of the GPS data (Tables 2, 3, and 4) prior to the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake (model I-a in Table 7). (a) Distribution of coupling on the megathrust. Fully coupled areas are red, and fully creeping areas are white. Three strongly coupled patches are revealed beneath Nias island, Siberut island, and Pagai island. The annual moment deficit rate corresponding to that model is 4.0 X 10^20 N m/a. (b) Observed (black vectors) and predicted (red vectors) horizontal velocities appear. Observed and predicted vertical displacements are shown by color-coded large and small circles, respectively. The Xr^2 of this model is 3.9 (Table 7).

  • This is a similar figure, but based upon observations between June 2005 and October 2006.

  • Distribution of coupling on the Sumatra megathrust derived from the formal inversion of the horizontal velocities and uplift rates derived from the CGPS measurements at the SuGAr stations (processed at SOPAC). To reduce the influence of postseismic deformation caused by the March 2005 Nias-Simeulue rupture, velocities were determined for the period between June 2005 and October 2006. (a) Distribution of coupling on the megathrust. Fully coupled areas are red and fully creeping areas are white. This model reveals strong coupling beneath the Mentawai Islands (Siberut, Sipora, and Pagai islands), offshore Padang city, and suggests that the megathrust south of Bengkulu city is creeping at the plate velocity. (b) Comparison of observed (green) and predicted (red) velocities. The Xr^2 associated to that model is 24.5 (Table 8).

  • This is a similar figure, but based on all the data.

  • Distribution of coupling on the Sumatra megathrust derived from the formal inversion of all the data (model J-a, Table 8). (a) Distribution of coupling on the megathrust. Fully coupled areas are red, and fully creeping areas are white. This model shows strong coupling beneath Nias island and beneath the Mentawai (Siberut, Sipora and Pagai) islands. The rate of accumulation of moment deficit is 4.5 X 10^20 N m/a. (b) Comparison of observed (black arrows for pre-2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake and green arrows for post-2005 Nias earthquake) and predicted velocities (in red). Observed and predicted vertical displacements are shown by color-coded large and small circles (for the corals) and large and small diamonds (for the CGPS), respectively. The Xr^2 of this model is 12.8.

  • Here is the figure I included in the poster above.

  • Comparison of interseismic coupling along the megathrust with the rupture areas of the great 1797, 1833, and 2005 earthquakes. The southernmost rupture area of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake lies north of our study area and is shown only for reference. Epicenters of the 2007 Mw 8.4 and Mw 7.9 earthquakes are also shown for reference. (a) Geometry of the locked fault zone corresponding to forward model F-f (Figure 6c). Below the Batu Islands, where coupling occurs in a narrow band, the largest earthquake for the past 260 years has been a Mw 7.7 in 1935 [Natawidjaja et al., 2004; Rivera et al., 2002]. The wide zones of coupling, beneath Nias, Siberut, and Pagai islands, coincide well with the source of great earthquakes (Mw > 8.5) in 2005 from Konca et al. [2007] and in 1797 and 1833 from Natawidjaja et al. [2006]. The narrow locked patch beneath the Batu islands lies above the subducting fossil Investigator Fracture Zone. (b) Distribution of interseismic coupling corresponding to inverse model J-a (Figure 10). The coincidence of the high coupling area (orange-red dots) with the region of high coseismic slip during the 2005 Nias-Simeulue earthquake suggests that strongly coupled patches during interseismic correspond to seismic asperities during megathrust ruptures. The source regions of the 1797 and 1833 ruptures also correlate well with patches that are highly coupled beneath Siberut, Sipora, and Pagai islands.

  • This figure shows the authors’ estimate for the moment deficit in this region of the subduction zone. This is an estimate of how much the plate convergence rate, that is estimated to accumulate as tectonic strain, will need to be released during subduction zone earthquakes.

  • Latitudinal distributions of seismic moment released by great historical earthquakes and of accumulated deficit of moment due to interseismic locking of the plate interface. Values represent integrals over half a degree of latitude. Accumulated interseismic deficits since 1797, 1833, and 1861 are based on (a) model F-f and (b) model J-a. Seismic moments for the 1797 and 1833 Mentawai earthquakes are estimated based on the work by Natawidjaja et al. [2006], the 2005 Nias-Simeulue earthquake is taken from Konca et al. [2007], and the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake is taken from Chlieh et al. [2007]. Postseismic moments released in the month that follows the 2004 earthquake and in the 11 months that follows the Nias-Simeulue 2005 earthquake are shown in red and green, respectively, based on the work by Chlieh et al. [2007] and Hsu et al. [2006].

  • For a review of the 2004 and 2005 Sumatra Andaman subduction zone (SASZ) earthquakes, please check out my Earthquake Report here. Below is the poster from that report. On that report page, I also include some information about the 2012 M 8.6 and M 8.2 Wharton Basin earthquakes.
    • I include some inset figures in the poster.
    • In the upper left corner, I include a map that shows the extent of historic earthquakes along the SASZ offshore of Sumatra. This map is a culmination of a variety of papers (summarized and presented in Patton et al., 2015).
    • In the upper right corner I include a figure that is presented by Chlieh et al. (2007). These figures show model results from several models. Each model is represented by a map showing the amount that the fault slipped in particular regions. I present this figure below.
    • In the lower right corner I present a figure from Prawirodirdjo et al. (2010). This figure shows the coseismic vertical and horizontal motions from the 2004 and 2005 earthquakes as measured at GPS sites.
    • In the lower left corner are the MMI intensity maps for the two SASZ earthquakes. Note these are at different map scales. I also include the MMI attenuation curves for these earthquakes below the maps. These plots show the reported MMI intensity data as they relate to two plots of modeled estimates (the orange and green lines). These green dots are from the USGS “Did You Feel It?” reports compared to the estimates of ground shaking from Ground Motion Prediction Equation (GMPE) estimates. GMPE are empirical relations between earthquakes and recorded seismologic observations from those earthquakes, largely controlled by distance to the fault, ray path (direction and material properties), and site effects (the local geology). When seismic waves propagate through sediment, the magnitude of the ground motions increases in comparison to when seismic waves propagate through bedrock. The orange line is a regression of data for the central and eastern US and the green line is a regression through data from the western US.


  • The 2004/2005 SASZ earthquakes also tended to load strain in the crust in different locations. On 2012.04.11 there was a series of strike-slip earthquakes in the India plate crust to the west of the 2004/2005 earthquakes. The two largest magnitudes for these earthquakes were M 8.6 and M 8.2. The M 8.6 is the largest strike-slip earthquake ever recorded.
  • On 2016.03.22 there was another large strike-slip earthquake in the India-Australia plate. This is probably related to this entire suite of subduction zone and intraplate earthquakes. I presented an interpretive poster about this M 7.8 earthquake here. Below is my interpretive poster for the M 7.8 earthquake. Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.
  • I include a map in the upper right corner that shows the historic earthquake rupture areas.

  • Here is a poster that shows some earthquakes in the Andaman Sea. This is from my earthquake report from 2015.11.08.

  • This map shows the fracture zones in the India-Australia plate.

References:

  • Abercrombie, R.E., Antolik, M., Ekstrom, G., 2003. The June 2000 Mw 7.9 earthquakes south of Sumatra: Deformation in the India–Australia Plate. Journal of Geophysical Research 108, 16.
  • Bassin, C., Laske, G. and Masters, G., The Current Limits of Resolution for Surface Wave Tomography in North America, EOS Trans AGU, 81, F897, 2000.
  • Bock, Y., Prawirodirdjo, L., Genrich, J.F., Stevens, C.W., McCaffrey, R., Subarya, C., Puntodewo, S.S.O., Calais, E., 2003. Crustal motion in Indonesia from Global Positioning System measurements: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 108, no. B8, 2367, doi: 10.1029/2001JB000324.
  • Bothara, J., Beetham, R.D., Brunston, D., Stannard, M., Brown, R., Hyland, C., Lewis, W., Miller, S., Sanders, R., Sulistio, Y., 2010. General observations of effects of the 30th September 2009 Padang earthquake, Indonesia. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 43, 143-173.
  • Chlieh, M., Avouac, J.-P., Hjorleifsdottir, V., Song, T.-R.A., Ji, C., Sieh, K., Sladen, A., Hebert, H., Prawirodirdjo, L., Bock, Y., Galetzka, J., 2007. Coseismic Slip and Afterslip of the Great (Mw 9.15) Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of 2004. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 97, S152-S173.
  • Chlieh, M., Avouac, J.P., Sieh, K., Natawidjaja, D.H., Galetzka, J., 2008. Heterogeneous coupling of the Sumatran megathrust constrained by geodetic and paleogeodetic measurements: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 113, B05305, doi: 10.1029/2007JB004981.
  • DEPLUS, C. et al., 1998 – Direct evidence of active derormation in the eastern Indian oceanic plate, Geology.
  • DYMENT, J., CANDE, S.C. & SINGH, S., 2007 – Oceanic lithosphere subducting beneath the Sunda Trench: the Wharton Basin revisited. European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, 15-20/05.
  • Hayes, G. P., Wald, D. J., and Johnson, R. L., 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries in J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Hayes, G.P., Bernardino, Melissa, Dannemann, Fransiska, Smoczyk, Gregory, Briggs, Richard, Benz, H.M., Furlong, K.P., and Villaseñor, Antonio, 2013. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2012 Sumatra and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-L, scale 1:6,000,000, https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1083/l/.
  • JACOB, J., DYMENT, J., YATHEESH, V. & BHATTACHARYA, G.C., 2009 – Marine magnetic anomalies in the NE Indian Ocean: the Wharton and Central Indian basins revisited. European Geosciences Union General Assembly, Vienna, 19-24/04.
  • Ji, C., D.J. Wald, and D.V. Helmberger, Source description of the 1999 Hector Mine, California earthquake; Part I: Wavelet domain inversion theory and resolution analysis, Bull. Seism. Soc. Am., Vol 92, No. 4. pp. 1192-1207, 2002.
  • Ishii, M., Shearer, P.M., Houston, H., Vidale, J.E., 2005. Extent, duration and speed of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake imaged by the Hi-Net array. Nature 435, 933.
  • Kanamori, H., Rivera, L., Lee, W.H.K., 2010. Historical seismograms for unravelling a mysterious earthquake: The 1907 Sumatra Earthquake. Geophysical Journal International 183, 358-374.
  • Konca, A.O., Avouac, J., Sladen, A., Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Fang, P., Li, Z., Galetzka, J., Genrich, J., Chlieh, M., Natawidjaja, D.H., Bock, Y., Fielding, E.J., Ji, C., Helmberger, D., 2008. Partial Rupture of a Locked Patch of the Sumatra Megathrust During the 2007 Earthquake Sequence. Nature 456, 631-635.
  • Maus, S., et al., 2009. EMAG2: A 2–arc min resolution Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid compiled from satellite, airborne, and marine magnetic measurements, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 10, Q08005, doi:10.1029/2009GC002471.
  • Malik, J.N., Shishikura, M., Echigo, T., Ikeda, Y., Satake, K., Kayanne, H., Sawai, Y., Murty, C.V.R., Dikshit, D., 2011. Geologic evidence for two pre-2004 earthquakes during recent centuries near Port Blair, South Andaman Island, India: Geology, v. 39, p. 559-562.
  • Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Chiang, H., Shen, C., Suwargadi, B.W., Natawidjaja, D.H., Philobosian, B., Briggs, R.W., Galetzka, J., 2010. Coral evidence for earthquake recurrence and an A.D. 1390–1455 cluster at the south end of the 2004 Aceh–Andaman rupture. Journal of Geophysical Research 115, 1-46.
  • Meng, L., Ampuero, J.-P., Stock, J., Duputel, Z., Luo, Y., and Tsai, V.C., 2012. Earthquake in a Maze: Compressional Rupture Branching During the 2012 Mw 8.6 Sumatra Earthquake in Science, v. 337, p. 724-726.
  • Natawidjaja, D.H., Sieh, K., Chlieh, M., Galetzka, J., Suwargadi, B., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Avouac, J., Ward, S.N., 2006. Source parameters of the great Sumatran megathrust earthquakes of 1797 and 1833 inferred from coral microatolls. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, 37.
  • Newcomb, K.R., McCann, W.R., 1987. Seismic History and Seismotectonics of the Sunda Arc. Journal of Geophysical Research 92, 421-439.
  • Philibosian, B., Sieh, K., Natawidjaja, D.H., Chiang, H., Shen, C., Suwargadi, B., Hill, E.M., Edwards, R.L., 2012. An ancient shallow slip event on the Mentawai segment of the Sunda megathrust, Sumatra. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, 12.
  • Prawirodirdjo, P., McCaffrey,R., Chadwell, D., Bock, Y, and Subarya, C., 2010. Geodetic observations of an earthquake cycle at the Sumatra subduction zone: Role of interseismic strain segmentation, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, v. 115, B03414, doi:10.1029/2008JB006139
  • Rivera, L., Sieh, K., Helmberger, D., Natawidjaja, D.H., 2002. A Comparative Study of the Sumatran Subduction-Zone Earthquakes of 1935 and 1984. BSSA 92, 1721-1736.
  • Shearer, P., and Burgmann, R., 2010. Lessons Learned from the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman Megathrust Rupture, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. v. 38, pp. 103–31
  • SATISH C. S, CARTON H, CHAUHAN A.S., et al., 2011 – Extremely thin crust in the Indian Ocean possibly resulting from Plume-Ridge Interaction, Geophysical Journal International.
  • Sieh, K., Natawidjaja, D.H., Meltzner, A.J., Shen, C., Cheng, H., Li, K., Suwargadi, B.W., Galetzka, J., Philobosian, B., Edwards, R.L., 2008. Earthquake Supercycles Inferred from Sea-Level Changes Recorded in the Corals of West Sumatra. Science 322, 1674-1678.
  • Singh, S.C., Carton, H.L., Tapponnier, P, Hananto, N.D., Chauhan, A.P.S., Hartoyo, D., Bayly, M., Moeljopranoto, S., Bunting, T., Christie, P., Lubis, H., and Martin, J., 2008. Seismic evidence for broken oceanic crust in the 2004 Sumatra earthquake epicentral region, Nature Geoscience, v. 1, pp. 5.
  • Smith, W.H.F., Sandwell, D.T., 1997. Global seafloor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings: Science, v. 277, p. 1,957-1,962.
  • Sorensen, M.B., Atakan, K., Pulido, N., 2007. Simulated Strong Ground Motions for the Great M 9.3 Sumatra–Andaman Earthquake of 26 December 2004. BSSA 97, S139-S151.
  • Subarya, C., Chlieh, M., Prawirodirdjo, L., Avouac, J., Bock, Y., Sieh, K., Meltzner, A.J., Natawidjaja, D.H., McCaffrey, R., 2006. Plate-boundary deformation associated with the great Sumatra–Andaman earthquake: Nature, v. 440, p. 46-51.
  • Tolstoy, M., Bohnenstiehl, D.R., 2006. Hydroacoustic contributions to understanding the December 26th 2004 great Sumatra–Andaman Earthquake. Survey of Geophysics 27, 633-646.
  • Zhu, Lupei, and Donald V. Helmberger. “Advancement in source estimation techniques using broadband regional seismograms.” Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 86.5 (1996): 1634-1641.

Posted in earthquake, education, geology, Indian Ocean, plate tectonics, subduction, sumatra

#Earthquake Report: North Bismarck plate

Well, what have we here? We have an interesting crustal earthquake in the North Bismarck plate. Why is it interesting? This is an interesting earthquake because of its orientation and mechanism.

This region of the world is one of the most tectonically active areas, where plate convergence, spreading ridges, and transform faults all interplay in a complicated manner. Though, typically, most earthquakes easily fit into the tectonic models that have been developed to date. Today’s earthquake does not readily fit into any fault map that I have found (but please let me know if this is incorrect!).

The majority of the seismicity in this region is due to the compressional tectonics of subduction zones that form the New Britain trench, the San Christobal trench, and the South Solomon trench. I have presented a number of #EarthquakeReports for these subduction zones (see a list of them at the bottom of this page, above the references). The New Britain (NB) and San Christobal (SC) tectonic domains have earthquakes with compressional moment tensors oriented perpendicular to the trench, and are separated by a small domain that has strike-slip moment tensors. I summarize these different domains in a poster below.

The major strike-slip fault that separates these convergent domains is connect to a series of enechelon oceanic spreading centers (mid ocean ridges) that form the N. and S. Bismarck plates. This left-lateral strike-slip fault is currently mapped to terminate at the spreading ridge. When I first saw the earthquake on the USGS feed (here is the USGS website for this earthquake), I thought it might be an extension of this left-lateral strike-slip fault. The USGS has not generated a moment tensor, but the geoscope page from IPGP (here) has a focal mechanism from SCARDEC that shows a strike-slip fault plane solution. Without looking at the details, I thought, “yup, strike-slip, as I thought it would be.” But, upon ruminating on this, I realized that it is the opposite sense of motion to be along an extension of this left-lateral strike-slip fault! If the earthquake is oriented on the northwest striking solution, then it would be a right-lateral strike-slip earthquake. So, I remain befuddled as to which fault plane solution is correct.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.


I plot the seismicity from the past year, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend).

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northeast-southwest compression, perpendicular to the convergence at these plate boundaries.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.
  • I include some inset figures.

  • In the upper left corner a figure from Oregon State University, which are based upon Hamilton (1979). “Tectonic microplates of the Melanesian region. Arrows show net plate motion relative to the Australian Plate.” This is from Johnson, 1976. To the right of the map is a cross section, showing how the Solomon Sea plate subducts beneath the S. Bismarck plate.
  • In the lower left corner is a more detailed map of the plate boundary faults in this region. I place a blue star in the general location of today’s M 6.4 earthquake (also placed on other inset figures).
  • In the upper right corner is a figure from Baldwin et al. (2012). This figure shows a series of cross sections along this convergent plate boundary from the Solomon Islands in the east to Papua New Guinea in the west. Cross sections ‘C’ and ‘D’ are the most representative for the earthquakes today. Note that today’s earthquake is not aligned with any plate boundary faults. I present the map and this figure again below, with their original captions.
  • In the lower right corner is a generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2016. This map shows the major plate boundary faults. Active subduction zones have shaded triangle fault symbols, while inactive subduction zones have un-shaded triangle fault line symbols.


  • In earlier earthquake reports, I discussed seismicity from 2000-2015 here. The seismicity on the west of this region appears aligned with north-south shortening along the New Britain trench, while seismicity on the east of this region appears aligned with more east-west shortening. Here is a map that I put together where I show these two tectonic domains with the seismicity from this time period (today’s earthquakes are not plotted on this map, but one may see where they might plot).


Background Figures

  • This figure shows an interpretation of the regional tectonics (Holm et al., 2016). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic setting of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. a) Regional plate boundaries and tectonic elements. Light grey shading illustrates bathymetry b 2000 m below sea level indicative of continental or arc crust, and oceanic plateaus; 1000 m depth contour is also shown. Adelbert Terrane (AT); Bismarck Sea fault (BSF); Bundi fault zone (BFZ); Feni Deep (FD); Finisterre Terrane (FT); Gazelle Peninsula (GP); Kia-Kaipito-Korigole fault zone (KKKF); Lagaip fault zone (LFZ); Mamberamo thrust belt (MTB); Manus Island (MI); New Britain (NB); New Ireland (NI); North Sepik arc (NSA); Ramu-Markham fault (RMF); Weitin Fault (WF);West Bismarck fault (WBF); Willaumez-Manus Rise (WMR).

  • This figure shows details of the regional tectonics (Holm et al., 2016). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • a) Present day tectonic features of the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands region as shown in plate reconstructions. Sea floor magnetic anomalies are shown for the Caroline plate (Gaina and Müller, 2007), Solomon Sea plate (Gaina and Müller, 2007) and Coral Sea (Weissel and Watts, 1979). Outline of the reconstructed Solomon Sea slab (SSP) and Vanuatu slab (VS)models are as indicated. b) Cross-sections related to the present day tectonic setting. Section locations are as indicated. Bismarck Sea fault (BSF); Feni Deep (FD); Louisiade Plateau
    (LP); Manus Basin (MB); New Britain trench (NBT); North Bismarck microplate (NBP); North Solomon trench (NST); Ontong Java Plateau (OJP); Ramu-Markham fault (RMF); San Cristobal trench (SCT); Solomon Sea plate (SSP); South Bismarck microplate (SBP); Trobriand trough (TT); projected Vanuatu slab (VS); West Bismarck fault (WBF); West Torres Plateau (WTP); Woodlark Basin (WB).

  • This map shows plate velocities and euler poles for different blocks. Note the counterclockwise motion of the plate that underlies the Solomon Sea (Baldwin et al., 2012). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic maps of the New Guinea region. (a) Seismicity, volcanoes, and plate motion vectors. Plate motion vectors relative to the Australian plate are surface velocity models based on GPS data, fault slip rates, and earthquake focal mechanisms (UNAVCO, http://jules.unavco.org/Voyager/Earth). Earthquake data are sourced from the International Seismological Center EHB Bulletin (http://www.isc.ac.uk); data represent events from January 1994 through January 2009 with constrained focal depths. Background image is generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Abbreviations: AB, Arafura Basin; AT, Aure Trough; AyT, Ayu Trough; BA, Banda arc; BSSL, Bismarck Sea seismic lineation; BH, Bird’s Head; BT, Banda Trench; BTFZ, Bewani-Torricelli fault zone; DD, Dayman Dome; DEI, D’Entrecasteaux Islands; FP, Fly Platform; GOP, Gulf of Papua; HP, Huon peninsula; LA, Louisiade Archipelago; LFZ, Lowlands fault zone; MaT, Manus Trench; ML, Mt. Lamington; MT, Mt. Trafalgar; MuT, Mussau Trough; MV, Mt. Victory; MTB, Mamberamo thrust belt; MVF, Managalase Plateau volcanic field; NBT, New Britain Trench; NBA, New Britain arc; NF, Nubara fault; NGT, New Guinea Trench; OJP, Ontong Java Plateau; OSF, Owen Stanley fault zone; PFTB, Papuan fold-and-thrust belt; PP, Papuan peninsula; PRi, Pocklington Rise; PT, Pocklington Trough; RMF, Ramu-Markham fault; SST, South Solomons Trench; SA, Solomon arc; SFZ, Sorong fault zone; ST, Seram Trench; TFZ, Tarera-Aiduna fault zone; TJ, AUS-WDKPAC triple junction; TL, Tasman line; TT, Trobriand Trough;WD, Weber Deep;WB, Woodlark Basin;WFTB, Western (Irian) fold-and-thrust belt; WR,Woodlark Rift; WRi, Woodlark Rise; WTB, Weyland thrust; YFZ, Yapen fault zone.White box indicates the location shown in Figure 3. (b) Map of plates, microplates, and tectonic blocks and elements of the New Guinea region. Tectonic elements modified after Hill & Hall (2003). Abbreviations: ADB, Adelbert block; AOB, April ultramafics; AUS, Australian plate; BHB, Bird’s Head block; CM, Cyclops Mountains; CWB, Cendrawasih block; CAR, Caroline microplate; EMD, Ertsberg Mining District; FA, Finisterre arc; IOB, Irian ophiolite belt; KBB, Kubor & Bena blocks (including Bena Bena terrane); LFTB, Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt; MA, Mapenduma anticline; MB, Mamberamo Basin block; MO, Marum ophiolite belt; MHS, Manus hotspot; NBS, North Bismarck plate; NGH, New Guinea highlands block; NNG, Northern New Guinea block; OKT, Ok Tedi mining district; PAC, Pacific plate; PIC, Porgera intrusive complex; PSP, Philippine Sea plate; PUB, Papuan Ultramafic Belt ophiolite; SB, Sepik Basin block; SDB, Sunda block; SBS, South Bismarck plate; SIB, Solomon Islands block; WP, Wandamen peninsula; WDK, Woodlark microplate; YQ, Yeleme quarries.

  • This figure incorporates cross sections and map views of various parts of the regional tectonics (Baldwin et al., 2012). The New Britain region is in the map near the A and B sections. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Oblique block diagram of New Guinea from the northeast with schematic cross sections showing the present-day plate tectonic setting. Digital elevation model was generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Oceanic crust in tectonic cross sections is shown by thick black-and-white hatched lines, with arrows indicating active subduction; thick gray-and-white hatched lines indicate uncertain former subduction. Continental crust, transitional continental crust, and arc-related crust are shown without pattern. Representative geologic cross sections across parts of slices C and D are marked with transparent red ovals and within slices B and E are shown by dotted lines. (i ) Cross section of the Papuan peninsula and D’Entrecasteaux Islands modified from Little et al. (2011), showing the obducted ophiolite belt due to collision of the Australian (AUS) plate with an arc in the Paleogene, with later Pliocene extension and exhumation to form the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. (ii ) Cross section of the Papuan peninsula after Davies & Jaques (1984) shows the Papuan ophiolite thrust over metamorphic rocks of AUS margin affinity. (iii ) Across the Papuan mainland, the cross section after Crowhurst et al. (1996) shows the obducted Marum ophiolite and complex folding and thrusting due to collision of the Melanesian arc (the Adelbert, Finisterre, and Huon blocks) in the Late Miocene to recent. (iv) Across the Bird’s Head, the cross section after Bailly et al. (2009) illustrates deformation in the Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt as a result of Late Miocene–Early Pliocene northeast-southwest shortening, followed by Late Pliocene–Quaternary extension. Abbreviations as in Figure 2, in addition to NI, New Ireland; SI, Solomon Islands; SS, Solomon Sea; (U)HP, (ultra)high-pressure.


Background Videos

  • Here is an educational video (from IRIS) for this part of the western Pacific. There are many plate boundaries and these margins are very active. This is a link to the embedded video below (10.4 MB mp4)
  • I put together an animation that shows the seismicity for this region from 1900-2016 for earthquakes with magnitude of M ≥ 6.5. Here is the USGS query I used to search for these data used in this animation. I show the location of the Benz et al. (2011) cross section E-E’ as a yellow line on the main map.
  • In this animation, I include some figures from the interpretive poster above. I also include a tectonic map based upon Hamilton (1979). Music is from copyright free music online and is entitled “Sub Strut.” Above the video I present a map showing all the earthquakes presented in the video.
  • Here is a link to the embedded video below (5 MB mp4)


References:

Posted in earthquake, education, geology, pacific, plate tectonics, strike-slip

Earthquake Report: Mid Atlantic Ridge (Chain fracture zone)

If there was an earthquake in the middle of the ocean, and nobody felt it… would it still be an earthquake? Maybe we need to get the Karl Popper out for a good read…

There was a good sized shaker less than an hour ago (at the time I started writing this, when it was first estimated to be M 6.8). Here is the USGS website for the M 6.6 earthquake that appears to be associated with the Chan fracture zone.

This may be related to a recent earthquake on the Romanche fracture zone, but it is probably too far away. Here is my report for this M 7.1 earthquake from 2016.08.29.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1900-2016 for magnitudes M ≥ 6.0.

I also include the USGS moment tensor for today’s earthquake.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. Based upon the series of earthquakes and the mapped faults, I interpret this M 5.1 earthquake as a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake related to slip associated with the Gorda plate.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner is a map that shows the age of the oceanic crust in Million Years B.P. (before present). The MAR is highlighted because it is of about zero age, so is shown as red (Müller et al., 2008). I place a blue star in the general location of this M 6.6 earthquake (as for the other inset maps).
  • In the lower left corner is a map that shows a revised interpretation of the timing and orientations of the initial breakup and formation of the MAR and the Atlantic Ocean from Torsvik et al. (2009)
  • In the lower right corner is a diagram that illustrates how Earth’s magnetic field reversals are recorded in the oceanic crust through time. This is one of the principal evidences that supports the hypotheses regarding plate tectonics. From top to bottom (earlier in time to later in time, where t = some time).
    • t = 0 Earth’s magnetic field is the same as it is today. We term this “normal” polarization. Rocks (and sediments) formed at this time can have magnetic minerals and grains align with the magnetic field orientation at that time.
      Colored oceanic crust (in this diagram) represents crust formed when the magnetic field is oriented like it is today.
    • t = 1 Tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands years later, as the plates diverge from the spreading ridge, decompression melting leads to accretion of new oceanic crust at the ridge. At this time, the magnetic field has reversed (north pole becomes south pole, dogs and cats living together (from movie “Ghostbusters”)), so the oceanic crust rock is magnetized with a field oriented opposite from the way it is today. We term this crust to have “reverse” polarization. Then, the magnetic field flips orientation again, becoming normal again. The diagram shows at this time, the crust forming at the ridge is normally polarized.
    • t = 2 Tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands years later, the plates continue to diverge from the spreading ridge forming new crust, and there are additional cycles of flipping magnetic fields. The result is a pattern, symmetrical about the spreading ridge, of oceanic crust that has alternating bands of crust with different polarities.
  • In the upper center is a map that shows the two fracture zones in this region (Romanche and Chain) along with focal mechanisms for earthquakes along these fracture zones. The fracture zones, which offset the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR), are transform plate boundaries. Considering the orientation of these fracture zones and the MAR, these earthquakes are right-lateral strike-slip earthquakes. Today’s M 6.6 earthquake is no different. Note how this earthquake is nearly perfect strike slip.
  • In the upper right corner is a larger scale map that shows the details of the sea floor in this region.The majority of the seismicity occurs along the fracture zones, which offset the MAR. Today’s earthquake is most likely associated with strike-slip faulting along the Chan fracture zone.


  • Here is the Bonatti et al. (2001) figure from the interpretive poster above. I include the figure caption as a blockquote below.

  • A: Multibeam topography of Romanche region, showing north-south profiles where sampling was carried out. Black dots and red numbers indicate estimated age (in million years) of lithosphere south of Romanche Transform, assuming spreading half-rate of 17 mm/yr within present-day ridge and transform geometry. White dots indicate epicenters of teleseismically recorded 1970–1995 events (magnitude . 4). FZ is fracture zone. B: Topography and petrology at eastern intersection of Romanche Fracture Zone with Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Data were obtained during expeditions S-16, S-19, and G-96 (Bonatti et al., 1994, 1996). C: Location of A along Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

  • Here is the Müller et al. (2008) figure from the interpretive poster above.

  • Here is the Torsvik et al. (2009) figure from the interpretive poster above. I include the figure caption as a blockquote below.

  • General structural map of the South Atlantic Ocean draped on topographic/bathymetric map from GTOPO 30. Boundaries between the four segments (Equatorial, Central, South and Falkland) are shown by dotted lines (RFZ, Romanche Fracture Zone; FFZ, Florianopolis Fracture Zone; AFFZ, Agulhas– Falkland Fracture Zone). Aptian salt basins (orange), LIPs (P, Parana; E, Etendeka; Karroo, Sierra Leone Rise and Agulhas), Seaward Dipping Reflectors (SDRs, white) and active hotspots (F, Fernando; C, Cameroon; Tr, Trinidade; Sh, St Helena; T, Tristan; V, Vema; B, Bouvet (Meteor) are also shown. Of these hotspots, only Tristan (responsible for the Parana-Etendeka LIP and Rio Grande Rise–Walvis Ridge) is classically considered as a deep plume in the literature (see Torsvik et al. 2006). However, Bouvet (Meteor) possibly responsible for Agulhas, and Maud Rise (East Antarctica) and Madagascar Ridge volcanism could possibly also have a deep plume origin (Section 6). PG, Ponta Grossa Dyke System; PA, Paraguay Dyke system; FI, Falkland Islands.

  • I created an animation that shows the seismicity for this region of the MAR from 1900-2016.08.29. The animation includes earthquakes of magnitudes M ≥ 6.0. Here is the kml that I created from the USGS website. Below is a map of all the earthquakes plotted, with the animation below.

  • Here is a link to the video embedded below (4 MB mp4)

    References:

  • Abercrombie, R.E. and Ekstrom, G., 2001. Earthquake slip on oceanic transform faults in Nature, v. 410, p. 74-77
  • Bonatti, E., Brunelli, D., Fabretti, P., Ligi, M., Portaro, R.A., and Seyler, M., 2001. Steady-state creation of crust-free lithosphere at cold spots in mid-ocean ridges in Geology, v. 29, no. 11, p. 979-982.
  • Müller, R.D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C., and Roest, W.R., 2008. Age, spreading rates and spreading symmetry of the world’s ocean crust in Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 9, Q04006, doi:10.1029/2007GC001743
  • Torsvik, T.H., Tousse, S., Labaila, C., and Smethurst, M.A., 2009. A new scheme for the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean and the dissection of an Aptian salt basin in Geophysical Journal INternational, v. 177, p. 1315-1333.

Posted in atlantic, earthquake, education, geology, plate tectonics, strike-slip, Transform