Earthquake Report: Guatemala and Mexico

This morning (my time) there was a moderately deep earthquake along the coast of southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. Here is my Temblor article about this M=6.6 earthquake and how it might relate to the 2017 M=8.2 quake.

Offshore of Guatemala and Mexico, the Middle America trench is formed by the subduction of the oceanic Cocos plate beneath the North America and Caribbean plates.

To the east of Guatemala and Mexico, the North America and Caribbean plates are separated by a left lateral (sinistral) strike-slip plate boundary fault (that forms the Cayman Trough beneath the Caribbean Sea).

As this plate boundary comes onshore, this fault forms multiple splays, including the Polochi-Montagua fault. As this system trends westwards across Central America, it joins another strike-slip plate boundary associated with the subduction zone (the Volcanic Arc fault).

South of about 15°N, the relative plate motion between the Caribbean and Cocos plates is oblique (they are not moving towards each other in a direction perpendicular to the subduction zone fault). At plate boundaries where plate convergence is oblique (like also found in Sumatra), the strain is partitioned onto the subduction zone (for fault normal component of the relative plate motion) and a forearc sliver fault (for the fault parallel relative motion).

The Tehuantepec fracture zone (TFZ) is a major structure in the Cocos plate. Coincidentally, the strike-slip fault systems trend towards where the TFZ intersects the trench.

There is left-lateral offset of the seafloor across the TFZ so the crust is about 10 million years older on the north side of the eastern TFZ. This age offset changes the depth of the crust across the TFZ and also may affect the megathrust fault properties on either side of the TFZ.

In addition, the TFZ may have geological properties that also affect the fault properties when this part of the plate subducts (affecting where, when, and how the fault slips).

There are so many things going on, but I will mention one more thing. Something that also appears to be happening in this part of the subduction zone is that there may be gaps in the slab beneath the megathrust. If this is true (Mann, 2007), then there may be changes in slab pull tension along strike as a result of different widths of attached downgoing slab.

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 include earthquake epicenters from 1919-2019 with magnitudes M ≥ 6.5 in one version.

I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

  • 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 a transparent version of the slab 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

    Magnetic Anomalies

  • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
  • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.

    Age of Oceanic Lithosphere

  • In one map below, I include a transparent overlay of the age of the oceanic crust data from Agegrid V 3 (Müller et al., 2008).
  • Because oceanic crust is formed at oceanic spreading ridges, the age of oceanic crust is youngest at these spreading ridges. The youngest crust is red and older crust is yellow (see legend at the top of this poster).

    I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

  • In the lower left corner is a pair of figures from Manea et al. (2013). On the left is a map showing some major plate boundary faults and other fault systems relevant to this region. On the right is a low angle oblique visualization of the Cocos plate. North is to the lower right. The depth of the slab is shown in shades of blue (see legend). Note the offset of blue color across the TFZ.
  • In the upper right corner is another low angle oblique visualization of the structures (Manea et al., 2013). Note the difference in depth of the slab across the TFZ and how the forearc sliver and North America / Caribbean strike-slip faults cross the upper plate. Read more about the forearc sliver in this report about an earthquake in El Salvador.
  • In the lower right corner is a map of the region showing details of the structures in the Cocos plate (Mann, 2007). There are an abundance of faults associated with the spreading ridges and offsets of these by numerous fracture zones. Note how the Cocos plate is formed by 2 different spreading ridges.
  • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

  • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted, using the age of the crust as an overlay.

There are also some interesting relations between different historic earthquakes.

In 2017 there was a series of large magnitude earthquakes in the region of today’s M=6.6 and further to the south. These quakes are highlighted in the posters above, notable are the 6 Jun M=6.9 and 22 Jun M=6.8. The first quake was a deep extensional event, followed by a thrust event (possibly triggered by the M=6.9). In addition, there was a M=6.9 extensional earthquake in 2014 that also may have been a player.

I presented an interpretive poster showing the zone of aftershocks associated with the June sequence. Later, in Sept, there was a M=8.2 extensional tsunamigenic earthquake to the north of the June sequence. If we look at the aftershock zone for the M=8.2 quake, it looks like a sausage link adjacent to the sausage link formed by the June aftershocks. mmmm veggie sausages.

However there was no megathrust earthquake in the area of the M=8.2 sequence.

  • Here is an interpretive poster showing how the 2017 June and September sequences spatially relate.

  • Here is a report where I discuss the June 2017 sequence in greater detail.

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Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

  • Here are some figures from Manea et al. (2013). First are the map and low angle oblique view of the Cocos plate.

  • A. Geodynamic and tectonic setting alongMiddle America Subduction Zone. JB: Jalisco Block; Ch. Rift—Chapala rift; Co. rift—Colima rift; EGG—El Gordo Graben; EPR: East Pacific Rise; MCVA: Modern Chiapanecan Volcanic Arc; PMFS: Polochic–Motagua Fault System; CR—Cocos Ridge. Themain Quaternary volcanic centers of the TransMexican Volcanic Belt (TMVB) and the Central American Volcanic Arc (CAVA) are shown as blue and red dots, respectively. B. 3-D view of the Pacific, Rivera and Cocos plates’ bathymetrywith geometry of the subducted slab and contours of the depth to theWadati–Benioff zone (every 20 km). Grey arrows are vectors of the present plate convergence along theMAT. The red layer beneath the subducting plate represents the sub-slab asthenosphere.

  • Here is the figure that shows how the upper and lower plate structures interplay.

  • Kinematic model (mantle reference frame) of the subducting Cocos slab along the MAT in the vicinity of Cocos–Caribbe–North America triple junction since Early Miocene. The evolution of Caribbean–North America tectonic contact is based on the model of Witt et al. (2012). The blue strips represent markers on the Cocos plate. Note how trench roll forward is associated with steep slab in Central America, whereas trench roll back is associated with flat slab in Mexico.

  • Here are 2 different figures from Mann (2007). First we see a map that shows the structures in the Cocos plate. Note the 3 profile locations labeled 1, 2, and 3. These coincide with the profiles in the lower panel.

  • Present setting of Central America showing plates, Cocos crust produced at East Pacifi c Rise (EPR), and Cocos-Nazca spreading center (CNS), triple-junction trace (heavy dotted line), volcanoes (open triangles), Middle America Trench (MAT), and rates of relative plate motion (DeMets et al., 2000; DeMets, 2001). East Pacifi c Rise half spreading rates from Wilson (1996) and Barckhausen et al. (2001). Lines 1, 2, and 3 are locations of topographic and tomographic profi les in Figure 6.

  • Here are 2 different views of the slabs in the region. These were modeled using seismic tomography (like a CT scan, but using seismic waves instead of X-Rays). The upper maps show the slabs in map-view at 3 different depths. The lower panels are cross sections 1, 2, and 3. Today’s M=6.6 earthquake happened between sections 1 & 2.

  • (A) Tomographic slices of the P-wave velocity of the mantle at depths of 100, 300, and 500 km beneath Central America. (B) Upper panels show cross sections of topography and bathymetry. Lower panels: tomographic profi les showing Cocos slab detached below northern Central America, upper Cocos slab continuous with subducted plate at Middle America Trench (MAT), and slab gap between 200 and 500 km. Shading indicates anomalies in seismic wave speed as a ±0.8% deviation from average mantle velocities. Darker shading indicates colder, subducted slab material of Cocos plate. Circles are earthquake hypocenters. Grid sizes on profi les correspond to quantity of ray-path data within that cell of model; smaller boxes indicate regions of increased data density. CT—Cayman trough; SL—sea level (modifi ed from Rogers et al., 2002).

  • These figures are from the USGS publication (Benz et al., 2011) that presents an educational poster about the historic seismicity and seismic hazard along the Middle America Trench.
  • First is a map showing earthquake depth as color (green depth > red). Seismicity cross section B-B’ is shown on the map. Today’s M=6.6 quake is nearest this section.


  • Franco et al. (2012) used GPS observations to evaluate the kinematics (how the plates move and interact relative to each other) of this region. Below is a map that shows earthquake mechanisms that reveal the strike-slip faults as they converge. The forearc sliver (the block between the megathrust and the forearc sliver fault) is shaded gray.
  • These authors also use a model to estimate how much the megathrust is locked and accumulating elastic strain. They evaluate a range of possible physical properties of the find that the megathrust north of the forearc sliver is more highly locked (seismogenically coupled).

  • 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.

  • Here is a map from Benz et al. (2011) that shows the seismic hazard for this region.

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

Geologic Fundamentals

  • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
  • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
  • Strike Slip:

    Compressional:

    Extensional:

  • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

  • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

  • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

  • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

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Earthquake Report: Chile

There was a very interesting earthquake in central coastal Chile yesterday. I spent some time putting together a Temblor article about it.

I also took the opportunity to create an interpretive poster in portrait format to help with people using mobile devices. Please let me know if this is a useful endeavor. I opened the file on my phone and it was easier to interpret than the landscape version.

This M=6.7 earthquake is interesting for several reasons.

  1. The quake is extensional, while on a convergent plate boundary. This could possibly be due to slab pull (the downgoing plate pulls downwards, causing extension in the plate).
  2. The quake was deep, so this tells us it is not a megathrust subduction zone earthquake (because megathrust earthquakes, quakes caused by slip between the plates, only occurs at shallower depths).
  3. The quake is in an area of the subduction zone that has not had a subduction zone earthquake since 1922.
  4. The quake happened in a region of low seismogenic coupling.
  5. The quake was at the edge of the aftershock zone from the 2015 M=8.3 subduction zone earthquake.
  6. There was an earthquake sequence in 1997 that may be an analogy to today’s M=6.7 quake (in ’97, a subduction zone earthquake sequence was followed by an along-strike (not down-dip) extensional sequence. While today was an extensional earthquake along strike from a subduction zone earthquake. However, it has been ~4 years between these two events. Is this too long? The 2015 is much larger than the 1997 sequence, so perhaps the static coulomb stress changes are more long lasting?)

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 include earthquake epicenters from 1919-2019 with magnitudes M ≥ 6.5 in one version.

I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange or black and white), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

  • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

    I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

  • In the upper left corner is a map showing historic earthquakes along the Chile margin (Rhea et al., 2010). We may visualize the earthquake depths by checking out the color of the dots. To the right is a cross section, cutting into the Earth. Earthquakes that are along the profile C-C’ (in blueon the map) are included in this cross section. I also placed a blue line on the main map in the general location of this cross section. I placed a blue star in the general location of the M=6.7 earthquake (same for the other inset figures).
  • In the upper right corner, there is another map (Métois et al., 2016) showing earthquake locations (color = depth). On the left is a space-time diagram. Vertical lines represent the size of the earthquake (latitudinal extent). They are placed horizontally relative to the year they happened. Note the 1922 earthquake. Beck et al. (1998) mention that the preceding earthquakes in that segment (1796, 1819) were composed of 2 and 3 earthquakes each. Ruiz and Madariaga (2018) suggest that the 1730 earthquake extended as far north as 1922 (see their figure below).
  • In the lower right corner is a suite of figures also from Métois et al. (2016). The first panel (A) shows the count of earthquakes M≥3.0 per year. The next panel (B) shows the average slip for some recent earthquakes, along with the amount of seismogenic coupling (the amount of the megathrust fault is locked). The final panel (C) shows the spatial distribution of how the fault is locked. Note how the M=6.7 quake happened in a region of low coupling.
  • In the lower left corner is another modeled example of a fault coupling experiment (Saillard et al., 2017). These authors also find that this part of the subduction zone is partially slipping (aseismic).
  • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted with USGS epicenters for earthquakes M≥6.5.

  • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted. Also included in this poster is the global strain map. The second map includes the century’s historic seismicity.
  • The Global Strain Map is a map product that tells us how much Earth’s crust is deforming due to plate tectonics. Areas that have more active faults are in regions of higher strain. Remember, strain is defined as a change in shape (e.g. length or volume) over time. When things deform more over a time period are in higher strain regions.


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Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

  • Here is the seismic hazard map is from Rhea et al. (2010).

  • Here is the seismicity map and space time diagram from Métois et al. (2016).

  • Left estimated extent of large historical or instrumental ruptures along the Chilean margin adapted from ME´ TOIS et al. (2012). Gray stars mark major intra-slab events. The recent Mw[8 earthquakes are indicated in red. Gray shaded areas correspond to LCZs defined in Fig. 3. Right seismicity recorded by the Centro Sismologico Nacional (CSN) during
    interseismic period, color-coded depending on the event’s depth. Three zones have been defined to avoid including aftershocks and preshocks associated with major events: (1) in North Chile, we plot the seismicity from 2008 to january 2014, i.e., between the Tocopilla and Iquique earthquakes; (2) in Central Chile, we plot the seismicity on the entire 2000–2014 period; (3) in South-Central Chile, we selected events that occurred between 2000 and 2010, i.e., before the Maule earthquake.

  • This figure is the 3 panel figure in the interpretive poster showing how seismicity is distributed along the margin, how historic earthquake slip was distributed, and how the fault may be locked (or slipping) along the megathrust fault.

  • a Histogram depicts the rate of Mw>3 earthquakes registered by the CSN catalog during the interseismic period defined for each zone (see Fig. 2) on the subduction interface, on 0.2° of latitude sliding windows. Stars are swarm-like sequences detected by HOLTKAMP et al. (2011) depending on their occurrence date. Swarms located in the Iquique LCZ and Camarones segment are from RUIZ et al. (2014). Empty squares are significant intraplate earthquakes. b Red curve variations of the average coupling coefficient on the first 60 km of depth calculated on 0.2° of latitude sliding windows for our best model including an Andean sliver motion. Dashed pink curves are alternative models with different smoothing options that fit the data with nRMS better than 2 (see supplementary figure 6): the pink shaded envelope around our best model stands for the variability of the coupling along strike. Green curves coseismic distribution for Maule (VIGNY et al. 2011), Iquique (LAY et al. 2014) and Illapel earthquakes (RUIZ et al. 2016). Gray shaded areas stand for the identified low coupling zones (LCZs). LCZs and high coupling segments are named on the left. The apparent decrease in the average coupling North of 30°S is considered as an artifact of the Andean sliver motion (see Sect. 5.2). c Best coupling distribution obtained inverting for Andean sliver motion and coupling amount simultaneously. The rupture zones for the three major earthquakes are indicated as green ellipses. White shaded areas are zones where we lack resolution.

  • This is a figure that shows details about the coupling compared to some slip models for the 201, 2014, and 2015 earthquakes. Yesterdays’ M=6.7 earthquake happened near the city of La Serena. Notice the location of this city compared to the slip on the subduction zone during the 20015 M=8.4 [8.43] earthquake.

  • Left coupling maps (color coded) versus coseismic slip distributions (gray shaded contours in cm) for the last three major Chilean earthquakes (epicenters are marked by white stars). From top to bottom Iquique area, white squares are pre-seismic swarm event in the month before the main shock, green star is the 2005, Tarapaca´ intraslab earthquake epicenter, blue star is the Mw 6.7 Iquique aftershock; Illapel area, green squares show the seismicity associated with the 1997 swarm following the Punitaqui intraslab earthquake (green star); Maule area, green star is the epicenter of the 1939 Chillan intraslab earthquake. Right interseismic background seismicity in the shallow part of the subduction zone (shallower than 60 km depth) for each region (red dots) together with 80 and 90 % coupling contours. White dots are events identified as mainshock after a declustering procedure following GARDNER and KNOPOFF (1974). Yellow areas extent of swarm sequences identified by HOLTKAMP et al. (2011) for South and Central Chile, and RUIZ et al. (2014) for North Chile.

  • Here is a fantastic figure from Saillard et al., 2017 (though I would have chosen a different color scheme, a challenge for everyone for sure). This shows a space-time diagram for historic earthquakes (panel c). The plate boundary and some earthquake mechanisms are plotted in panel (d). The panel on the left (a) shows uplift rates for marine terraces. The uplift of these terraces is a proxy for tectonic convergence along the margin. In panel (b) is a plot that shows how the distance between the trench (T) and the coastline (C). This distance may be a proxy for how the structures in the subducting Nazca plate could control segmentation along the subduction zone.

  • Marine terrace uplift rates, trench-coast distance, and rupture length of historical earthquakes along the Andean margin. (a) Uplift rates of marine terraces reported in the literature (we present the average rate since terrace abandonment; Table S1 in the supporting information [Jara-Muñoz et al., 2015]). Each color corresponds to a marine terrace
    assigned to a marine isotopic stage (MIS). Gray dots are the uplift rates of the central Andean rasa estimated from a numerical model of landscape evolution [Melnick, 2016]. (b) The distance between the coast and the trench was measured parallel to the convergence direction [DeMets et al., 1994]. Main peninsulas are indicated with names and arrows. Horizontal blue bands are the areas where the coastline is less than 110 km (light blue) or 90 km (dark blue) from the trench. (c) Lateral extent of the rupture zone of historical megathrust earthquakes are color coded by magnitude from southern Chile to central Peru (reported in Table S2). Continuous lines indicate the rupture zones better constrained than those represented by dashed lines. (d) Geodynamic setting of the Andean margin (10°S–40°S) and location of major great historical megathrust earthquakes. Major bathymetric features, the coastline (blue line), and the Peru-Chile trench (thick black line) are indicated. Convergence directions and velocities (cm/yr) of the Nazca plate toward the South America plate are from DeMets et al. [1994]. Red line corresponds to the 40 km isodepth of the subducting slab [Hayes and Wald, 2009].

  • This is the fault locking figure from Saillard et al. (2017), showing the percent coupling (how much of the plate convergence contributes to deformation of the plate boundary, which may tell us places on the fault that might slip during an earthquake. We are still learning about why this is important and what it means.

  • Comparison between the uplift rates, interseismic coupling, major bathymetric features, and peninsulas along the Andean margin (10°S–40°S). (a) Uplift rates of marine terraces reported in the literature (we present the average rate since terrace abandonment; Table S1 in the supporting information [Jara-Muñoz et al., 2015]). Each color corresponds to a marine terrace assigned to a marine isotopic stage (MIS). Gray dots are the uplift rates of the central Andean rasa estimated from a numerical model of landscape evolution [Melnick, 2016]. (b) Major bathymetric features and peninsulas and pattern of interseismic coupling of the Andean margin from GPS data inversion (this study). Gray shaded areas correspond to the areas where the spatial resolution of inversion is low due to the poor density of GPS observations (see text and supporting information for more details). The Peru-Chile trench (thick black line), the coastline (thin black line), and the convergence direction (black arrows) are indicated. We superimposed the curve obtained by shifting the trench geometry eastward by 110 km (trench-coast distance of 110 km; blue line) with the curve reflecting the 40 km isodepth of the subducting slab (red line; Slab1.0 from Hayes and Wald [2009]), a depth which corresponds approximately with the downdip end of the locked portion of the Andean seismogenic zone (±10 km) [Ruff and Tichelaar, 1996; Khazaradze and Klotz, 2003; Chlieh et al., 2011; Ruegg et al., 2009; Moreno et al., 2011; Métois et al., 2012]. The two curves are spatially similar in the erosive part of the Chile margin (north of 34°S), whereas they diverge along the shallower slab geometry in the accretionary part of the Chile margin (south of 34°S), where the downdip end of the locked zone may be shallower (Figure 4b). Red arrows indicate the low interseismic coupling associated with peninsulas and marine terraces and evidence of aseismic afterslip (after Perfettini et al. [2010] below the Pisco-Nazca Peninsula; Pritchard and Simons [2006], Victor et al. [2011], Shirzaei et al. [2012], Bejar-Pizarro et al. [2013], and Métois et al. [2013] for the Mejillones Peninsula; Métois et al. [2012, 2014] below the Tongoy Peninsula; and Métois et al. [2012] and Lin et al. [2013] for the Arauco Peninsula). FZ: Fracture zone. Horizontal blue bands are the areas where coastline is less than 110 km (light blue) or 90 km (dark blue) from the trench (see Figure 1).

  • Here is their main take-away figure where they explain how the uplift of marine terraces and the behavior of the subduction zone megathrust fault are related.

  • Conceptual model proposing a link between coastal deformation (building permanent uplift producing the marine terraces distribution we observe) and seismogenic behavior of the megathrust assuming an elastoplastic model of the Earth. (a) Theoretical fore-arc deformation in cases of aseismic slip and assuming that part of plate interface is fully locked (i.e., down to a depth of 40 km) during the interseismic period (modified from Chlieh et al. [2008]). The 40 km downdip isodepth on the slab corresponds to a 110 km horizontal width of the seismogenic zone in plan view. (b) The 3-D sketch illustrating the proposed relationship between interseismic coupling and coastal morphology. Where the subduction interface is highly coupled during the interseismic period, there is negligible long-term coastal uplift but subsidence (minus sign). Highly coupled zone corresponds to fore-arc basin and seismic rupture zone. In contrast, peninsulas and promontories correspond to zones with low interseismic coupling (creeping zone), coastal uplift (plus sign), and seismic barrier. (c, top) Fore-arc deformation (uplift in gray area) occurring in case of mostly aseismic slip on the subduction interface, as the locked zone is narrower and (bottom) simplified cross section of a narrow locked zone and aseismic asperities exemplifying observed onshore long-term deformation above a creeping segment (red star: Mw <7.5 megathrust earthquakes such as Nazca 1996). Marine terrace sequences associated to high coastal uplift rates are well preserved, where the coastline lies above an aseismic patch on the subduction zone, i.e., within the defined threshold trench-coast distance of 110 km. (d, top) Fore-arc interseismic uplift (gray area) in a fully coupled context and (bottom) simplified cross section of a subduction margin and its wide seismogenic locked zone in red (red star: Mw>8 megathrust earthquakes such as Lima 1746) with low coastal uplift rates and development of rasa morphology. LZ: locked zone. The locations of the cross sections in Figures 6c and 6d are indicated.

  • The subduction zone fault in the region of Coquimbo, Chile changes geometry, probably because of the Juan Fernandez Ridge (this structure controls the shape of the subduction zone). This figure shows a map and cross section for two parts of the subduction zone (Marot et al., 2014). The example on the left is the in the region of yesterday’s m=6.7 earthquake. Note how the subdction zone flattens out with depth here. The M=6.7 quake was shallower than this, but the shape of the downgoing slab does affect the amount of slab pull (tension in the down-dip direction) is exerted along the plate.

  • Tectono-seismo-structural-geological context of central Chile and western Argentina, where the Nazca Plate subducts underneath the South American Plate at a rate of 6.7 cm a−1 in an N78◦E direction (Kendrick et al. 2003). (a) Seismological context of the temporary seismic networks (inverted triangles) and the recorded seismicity (small circles). Shown are: active volcanoes (red triangles), main cities (white circles, capital city Santiago with a star), slab contours from Anderson et al. (2007), the political border between Chile and Argentina (white line) and the inferred Juan Fernandez Ridge subduction path and width (semi-transparent white line and band, respectively). Inset shows the zone of interest. (b) Tectono-structural-geological context, showing the accreted terranes, major suture zones (thick black lines), geological provinces and their uplifted outcrops (dotted lines), the La Ramada and Aconcagua thrust belts (lines with triangles), and the main cities (white circles, labelled in a). Two vertical EW cross-sections (shown in a) show the recorded seismic activity (black circles) along the flat (c) and normal (d) slab regions; inverted black triangles are the Chile–Peru trench position and red triangles are active volcanoes.

  • The following figures from Leyton et al. (2009) are great analogies, showing examples of interplate earthquakes (e.g. subduction zone megathrust events) and intraplate earthquakes (e.g. slab quakes, or events within the downgoing plate). The first figures are maps showing these earthquakes, then there are some seismicity cross sections.

  • Maps showing the location of the study and the events used ((a)–(c)). In red we present interplate earthquakes, while in blue, the intermediate depth, intraplate ones. We used beach balls to plot those events with known focal and circles for those without. White triangles mark the position of the Chilean Seismological Network used to locate the events; those with names represent stations used in the waveform analysis (either accelerometers or broadbands with known instrumental response). Labels over beach balls correspond to CMT codes.

  • Here are 2 cross sections showing the earthquakes plotted in the maps above (Leyton et al., 2009).

  • Cross-section at (a) 33.5◦S and (b) 36.5◦S showing the events used in this study. In red we present interplate earthquakes, while in blue, the intermediate depth, intraplate ones.We used beach balls (vertical projection) to plot those events with knownfocal and circles for those without. In light gray is shown the background seismicity recorded from 2000 to 2006 by the Chilean Seismological Service

Geologic Fundamentals

  • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
  • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
  • Strike Slip:

    Compressional:

    Extensional:

  • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

  • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

  • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

  • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

    Social Media

    References:

  • Beck, S., Barrientos, S., Kausel, E., and Reyes, M., 1998. Source Characteristics of Historic Earthquakes along the Central Chile Subduction Zone in Journal of South American Earth Sciences, v. 11, no. 2, p. 115-129, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0895-9811(98)00005-4
  • Gardi, A., A. Lemoine, R. Madariaga, and J. Campos (2006), Modeling of stress transfer in the Coquimbo region of central Chile, J. Geophys. Res., 111, B04307, https://doi.org/10.1029/2004JB003440
  • Hayes, G., 2018, Slab2 – A Comprehensive Subduction Zone Geometry Model: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7PV6JNV.
  • Leyton, F., Ruiz, J., Campos, J., and Kausel, E., 2009. Intraplate and interplate earthquakes in Chilean subduction zone:
    A theoretical and observational comparison in Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, v. 175, p. 37-46, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pepi.2008.03.017
  • Marot, M., Monfret, T., Gerbault, M.,. Nolet, G., Ranalli, G., and Pardo, M., 2014. Flat versus normal subduction zones: a comparison based on 3-D regional traveltime tomography and petrological modelling of central Chile and western Argentina (29◦–35◦S) in GJI, v. 199, p. 1633-164, https://doi.org/10.1093/gji/ggu355
  • Métois, M., Vigny, C., and Socquet, A., 2016. Interseismic Coupling, Megathrust Earthquakes and Seismic Swarms Along the Chilean Subduction Zone (38°–18°S) in Pure Applied Geophysics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00024-016-1280-5
  • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model. https://doi:10.7289/V5H70CVX
  • Rhea, S., Hayes, G., Villaseñor, A., Furlong, K.P., Tarr, A.C., and Benz, H.M., 2010. Seismicity of the earth 1900–2007, Nazca Plate and South America: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-E, 1 sheet, scale 1:12,000,000.
  • Ruiz, S. and Madariaga, R., 2018. Historical and recent large megathrust earthquakes in Chile in Tectonophysics, v. 733, p. 37-56, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2018.01.015
  • Saillard, M., L. Audin, B. Rousset, J.-P. Avouac, M. Chlieh, S. R. Hall, L. Husson, and D. L. Farber, 2017. From the seismic cycle to long-term deformation: linking seismic coupling and Quaternary coastal geomorphology along the Andean megathrust in Tectonics, 36, https://doi:10.1002/2016TC004156.

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

Earthquake Report: 2018 Summary

Here I summarize Earth’s significant seismicity for 2018. I limit this summary to earthquakes with magnitude greater than or equal to M 6.5. I am sure that there is a possibility that your favorite earthquake is not included in this review. Happy New Year.

However, our historic record is very short, so any thoughts about whether this year (or last, or next) has smaller (or larger) magnitude earthquakes than “normal” are limited by this small data set.

Here is a table of the earthquakes M ≥ 6.5.


Here is a plot showing the cumulative release of seismic energy. This summary is imperfect in several ways, but shows how only the largest earthquakes have a significant impact on the tally of energy release from earthquakes. I only include earthquakes M ≥ 6.5. Note how the M 7.5 Sulawesi earthquake and how little energy was released relative to the two M = 7.9 earthquakes.


Below is my summary poster for this earthquake year

  • I include moment tensors for the earthquakes included in the reports below.
  • Click on the map to see a larger version.


This is a video that shuffles through the earthquake report posters of the year


2018 Earthquake Report Pages

Other Annual Summaries

2018 Earthquake Reports

    General Overview of how to interact with these summaries

    • Click on the earthquake “magnitude and location” label (e.g. “M 6.9 Fiji”) to go to the Earthquake Report website for any given earthquake. Click on the map to open a high resolution pdf version of the interpretive poster. More information about the poster is found on the Earthquake Report website.
    • I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 7.5 in one version.
    • I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    Background on the Earthquake Report posters

    • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the posters. 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 maps. 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

    Magnetic Anomalies

    • In the maps below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
    • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.

2018.01.10 M 7.6 Cayman Trough

Just a couple hours ago there was an earthquake along the Swan fault, which is the transform plate boundary between the North America and Caribbean plates. The Cayman trough (CT) is a region of oceanic crust, formed at the Mid-Cayman Rise (MCR) oceanic spreading center. To the west of the MCR the CT is bound by the left-lateral strike-slip Swan fault. To the east of the MCR, the CT is bound on the north by the Oriente fault.

Based upon our knowledge of the plate tectonics of this region, I can interpret the fault plane solution for this earthquake. The M 7.6 earthquake was most likely a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake associated with the Swan fault.

  • Plotted with a century’s earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 6.5

  • Plotted with a century’s earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 3.5

  • There were two observations of a small amplitude (small wave height) tsunami recorded on tide gages in the region. Below are those observations.

2018.01.14 M 7.1 Peru

We had a damaging and (sadly) deadly earthquake in southern Peru in the last 24 hours. This is an earthquake, with magnitude M 7.1, that is associated with the subduction zone forming the Peru-Chile trench (PCT). The Nazca plate (NP) is subducting beneath the South America plate (SAP). There are lots of geologic structures on the Nazca plate that tend to affect how the subduction zone responds during earthquakes (e.g. segmentation).

In the region of this M 7.1 earthquake, two large structures in the NP are the Nazca Ridge and the Nazca fracture zone. The Nazca fracture zone is a (probably inactive) strike-slip fault system. The Nazca Ridge is an over-thickened region of the NP, thickened as the NP moved over a hotspot located near Salas y Gomez in the Pacific Ocean east of Easter Island (Ray et al., 2012).

There are many papers that discuss how the ridge affects the shape of the megathrust fault here. The main take-away is that the NR is bull dozing into South America and the dip of the subduction zone is flat here. There is a figure below that shows the deviation of the subducting slab contours at the NR.


Well, I missed looking further into a key update paper and used figures from an older paper on my interpretive poster yesterday. Thanks to Stéphane Baize for pointing this out! Turns out, after their new analyses, the M 7.1 earthquake was in a region of higher seismogenic coupling, rather than low coupling (as was presented in my first poster).

Also, Dr. Robin Lacassin noticed (as did I) the paucity of aftershocks from yesterday’s M 7.1. This was also the case for the carbon copy 2013 M 7.1 earthquake (there was 1 M 4.6 aftershock in the weeks following the M 7.1 earthquake on 2013.09.25; there were a dozen M 1-2 earthquakes in Nov. and Dec. of 2013, but I am not sure how related they are to the M 7.1 then). I present a poster below with this in mind. I also include below a comparison of the MMI modeled estimates. The 2013 seems to have possibly generated more widespread intensities, even though that was a deeper earthquake.


2018.01.23 M 7.9 Gulf of Alaska

  • 2018.01.23 M 7.9 Gulf of Alaska UPDATE #1
  • 2018.01.24 M 7.9 Gulf of Alaska UPDATE #2
  • This earthquake appears to be located along a reactivated fracture zone in the GA. There have only been a couple earthquakes in this region in the past century, one an M 6.0 to the east (though this M 6.0 was a thrust earthquake). The Gulf of Alaska shear zone is even further to the east and has a more active historic fault history (a pair of earthquakes in 1987-1988). The magnetic anomalies (formed when the Earth’s magnetic polarity flips) reflect a ~north-south oriented spreading ridge (the anomalies are oriented north-south in the region of today’s earthquake). There is a right-lateral offset of these magnetic anomalies located near the M 7.9 epicenter. Interesting that this right-lateral strike-slip fault (?) is also located at the intersection of the Gulf of Alaska shear zone and the 1988 M 7.8 earthquake (probably just a coincidence?). However, the 1988 M 7.8 earthquake fault plane solution can be interpreted for both fault planes (it is probably on the GA shear zone, but I don’t think that we can really tell).

    This is strange because the USGS fault plane is oriented east-west, leading us to interpret the fault plane solution (moment tensor or focal mechanism) as a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake. So, maybe this earthquake is a little more complicated than first presumed. The USGS fault model is constrained by seismic waves, so this is probably the correct fault (east-west).

    I prepared an Earthquake Report for the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake here.

    • The USGS updated their MMI contours to reflect their fault model. Below is my updated poster. I also added green dashed lines for the fracture zones related to today’s M 7.9 earthquake (on the magnetic anomaly inset map).

    • These are the observations as reported by the NTWC this morning (at 4:15 AM my local time).

    • Large Scale Interpretive Map (from update report)

    As a reminder, if the M 7.9 earthquake fault is E-W oriented, it would be left-lateral. The offset magnetic anomalies show right-lateral offset across these fracture zones. This was perhaps the main reason why I thought that the main fault was not E-W, but N-S. After a day’s worth of aftershocks, the seismicity may reveal some north-south trends. But, as a drama student in 7th grade (1977), my drama teacher (Ms. Naichbor, rest in peace) asked our class to go stand up on stage. We all stood in a line and she mentioned that this is social behavior, that people tend to stand in lines (and to avoid doing this while on stage). Later, when in college, professors often commented about how people tend to seek linear trends in data (lines). I actually see 3-4 N-S trends and ~2 E-W trends in the seismicity data.

    So, that being said, here is the animation I put together. I used the USGS query tool to get earthquakes from 1/22 until now, M ≥ 1.5. I include a couple inset maps presented in my interpretive posters. The music is copyright free. The animations run through twice.

    Here is a screenshot of the 14 MB video embedded below. I encourage you to view it in full screen mode (or download it).


    2018.02.16 M 7.2 Oaxaca, Mexico

    There was just now an earthquake in Oaxaca, Mexico between the other large earthquakes from last 2017.09.08 (M 8.1) and 2017.09.08 (M 7.1). There has already been a M 5.8 aftershock.Here is the USGS website for today’s M 7.2 earthquake.

    The SSN has a reported depth of 12 km, further supporting evidence that this earthquake was in the North America plate.

    This region of the subduction zone dips at a very shallow angle (flat and almost horizontal).

    There was also a sequence of earthquakes offshore of Guatemala in June, which could possibly be related to the M 8.1 earthquake. Here is my earthquake report for the Guatemala earthquake.

    The poster also shows the seismicity associated with the M 7.6 earthquake along the Swan fault (southern boundary of the Cayman trough). Here is my earthquake report for the Guatemala earthquake.

    • Here is the same poster but with the magnetic anomalies included (transparent).

    2018.02.25 M 7.5 Papua New Guinea

  • 2018.02.26 M 7.5 Papua New Guinea Update #1
  • This morning (local time in California) there was an earthquake in Papua New Guinea with, unfortunately, a high likelihood of having a good number of casualties. I was working on a project, so could not immediately begin work on this report.

    This M 7.5 earthquake (USGS website) occurred along the Papua Fold and Thrust Belt (PFTB), a (mostly) south vergent sequence of imbricate thrust faults and associated fold (anticlines). The history of this PFTB appears to be related to the collision of the Australia plate with the Caroline and Pacific plates, the delamination of the downgoing oceanic crust, and then associated magmatic effects (from decompression melting where the overriding slab (crust) was exposed to the mantle following the delamination). More about this can be found in Cloos et al. (2005).


  • The same map without historic seismicity.

  • The aftershocks are still coming in! We can use these aftershocks to define where the fault may have slipped during this M 7.5 earthquake. As I mentioned yesterday in the original report, it turns out the fault dimension matches pretty well with empirical relations between fault length and magnitude from Wells and Coppersmith (1994).

    The mapped faults in the region, as well as interpreted seismic lines, show an imbricate fold and thrust belt that dominates the geomorphology here (as well as some volcanoes, which are probably related to the slab gap produced by crust delamination; see Cloos et al., 2005 for more on this). I found a fault data set and include this in the aftershock update interpretive poster (from the Coordinating Committee for Geoscience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia, CCOP).

    I initially thought that this M 7.5 earthquake was on a fault in the Papuan Fold and Thrust Belt (PFTB). Mark Allen pointed out on twitter that the ~35km hypocentral depth is probably too deep to be on one of these “thin skinned” faults (see Social Media below). Abers and McCaffrey (1988) used focal mechanism data to hypothesize that there are deeper crustal faults that are also capable of generating the earthquakes in this region. So, I now align myself with this hypothesis (that the M 7.5 slipped on a crustal fault, beneath the thin skin deformation associated with the PFTB. (thanks Mark! I had downloaded the Abers paper but had not digested it fully.

    • Here is the “update” map with aftershocks

    2018.03.08 M 6.8 New Ireland

    We had an M 6.8 earthquake near a transform micro-plate boundary fault system north of New Ireland, Papua New Guinea today. Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.

    The main transform fault (Weitin fault) is ~40 km to the west of the USGS epicenter. There was a very similar earthquake on 1982.08.12 (USGS website).

    This earthquake is unrelated to the sequence occurring on the island of New Guinea.

    Something that I rediscovered is that there were two M 8 earthquakes in 1971 in this region. This testifies that it is possible to have a Great earthquake (M ≥ 8) close in space and time relative to another Great earthquake. These earthquakes do not have USGS fault plane solutions, but I suspect that these are subduction zone earthquakes (based upon their depth).

    This transform system is capable of producing Great earthquakes too, as evidenced by the 2000.11.16 M 8.0 earthquake (USGS website). This is another example of two Great earthquakes (or almost 2 Great earthquakes, as the M 7.8 is not quite a Great earthquake) are related. It appears that the M 8.0 earthquake may have triggered teh M 7.8 earthquake about 3 months later (however at first glance, it seemed to me like the strike-slip earthquake might not increase the static coulomb stress on the subduction zone, but I have not spent more than half a minute thinking about this).

    Main Interpretive Poster with emag2


    Earthquakes M≥ 6.5 with emag2


    2018.03.26 M 6.6 New Britain

    The New Britain region is one of the more active regions in the world. See a list of earthquake reports for this region at the bottom of this page, above the reference list.

    Today’s M 6.6 earthquake happened close in proximity to a M 6.3 from 2 days ago and a M 5.6 from a couple weeks ago. The M 5.6 may be related (may have triggered these other earthquakes), but this region is so active, it might be difficult to distinguish the effects from different earthquakes. The M 5.6 is much deeper and looks like it was in the downgoing Solomon Sea plate. It is much more likely that the M 6.3 and M 6.6 are related (I interpret that the M 6.3 probably triggered the M 6.6, or that M 6.3 was a foreshock to the M 6.6, given they are close in depth). Both M 6.3 and M 6.6 are at depths close to the depth of the subducting slab (the megathrust fault depth) at this location. So, I interpret these to be subduction zone earthquakes.


    2018.03.26 M 6.9 New Britain

    Well, those earthquakes from earlier, one a foreshock to a later one, were foreshocks to an earthquake today! Here is my report from a couple days ago. The M 6.6 and M 6.3 straddle today’s earthquake and all have similar hypocentral depths.


    2018.04.02 M 6.8 Bolivia

    A couple days ago there was a deep focus earthquake in the downgoing Nazca plate deep beneath Bolivia. This earthquake has an hypocentral depth of 562 km (~350 miles).

    We are still unsure what causes an earthquake at such great a depth. The majority of earthquakes happen at shallower depths, caused largely by the frictional between differently moving plates or crustal blocks (where earth materials like the crust behave with brittle behavior and not elastic behavior). Some of these shallow earthquakes are also due to internal deformation within plates or crustal blocks.

    As plates dive into the Earth at subduction zones, they undergo a variety of changes (temperature, pressure, stress). However, because people cannot directly observe what is happening at these depths, we must rely on inferences, laboratory analogs, and other indirect methods to estimate what is going on.

    So, we don’t really know what causes earthquakes at the depth of this Bolivia M 6.8 earthquake. Below is a review of possible explanations as provided by Thorne Lay (UC Santa Cruz) in an interview in response to the 2013 M 8.3 Okhotsk Earthquake.


    2018.05.04 M 6.9 Hawai’i

    There has been a swarm of earthquakes on the southeastern part of the big island, with USGS volcanologists hypothesizing about magma movement and suggesting that an eruption may be imminent. Here is a great place to find official USGS updates on the volcanism in Hawaii (including maps).

    Hawaii is an active volcanic island formed by hotspot volcanism. The Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain is a series of active and inactive volcanoes formed by this process and are in a line because the Pacific plate has been moving over the hotspot for many millions of years.

    Southeast of the main Kilauea vent, the Pu‘u ‘Ö‘ö crater saw an elevation of lava into the crater, leading to overtopping of the crater (on 4/30/2018). Seismicity migrated eastward along the ERZ. This morning, there was a M 5.0 earthquake in the region of the Hilina fault zone (HFZ). I was getting ready to write something up, but I had other work that I needed to complete. Then, this evening, there was a M 6.9 earthquake between the ERZ and the HFZ.

    There have been earthquakes this large in this region in the past (e.g. the 1975.1.29 M 7.1 earthquake along the HFZ). This earthquake was also most likely related to magma injection (Ando, 1979). The 1975 M 7.1 earthquake generated a small tsunami (Ando, 1979). These earthquakes are generally compressional in nature (including the earthquakes from today).

    Today’s earthquake also generated a tsunami as recorded on tide gages throughout Hawaii. There is probably no chance that a tsunami will travel across the Pacific to have a significant impact elsewhere.

    This version includes earthquakes M ≥ 3.5 (note the seismicity offshore to the south, this is where the youngest Hawaii volcano is).

    Below are a series of plots from tide gages installed at several sites in the Hawaii Island Chain. These data are all posted online here and here.

    • Hilo, Hawaii

    • Kawaihae, Hawaii

    Temblor Reports:

    • Click on the graphic to see a pdf version of the article.
    • Click on the html link (date) to visit the Temblor site.
    2018.05.05 Pele, the Hawai’i Goddess of Fire, Lightning, Wind, and Volcanoes
    2018.05.06 Pele, la Diosa Hawaiana del Fuego, los Relámpagos, el Viento y los Volcanes de Hawái

    2018.08.05 M 6.9 Lombok, Indonesia

    Yesterday morning, as I was recovering from working on stage crew for the 34th Reggae on the River (fundraiser for the non profit, the Mateel Community Center), I noticed on social media that there was an M 6.9 earthquake in Lombok, Indonesia. This is sad because of the likelihood for casualties and economic damage in this region.

    However, it is interesting because the earthquake sequence from last week (with a largest earthquake with a magnitude of M 6.4) were all foreshocks to this M 6.9. Now, technically, these were not really foreshocks. The M 6.4 has an hypocentral (3-D location) depth of ~6 km and the M 6.9 has an hypocentral depth of ~31 km. These earthquakes are not on the same fault, so I would interpret that the M 6.9 was triggered by the sequence from last week due to static coulomb changes in stress on the fault that ruptured. Given the large difference in depths, the uncertainty for these depths is probably not sufficient to state that they may be on the same fault (i.e. these depths are sufficiently different that this difference is larger than the uncertainty of their locations).

    I present a more comprehensive analysis of the tectonics of this region in my earthquake report for the M 6.4 earthquake here. I especially address the historic seismicity of the region there. This M 6.9 may have been on the Flores thrust system, while the earthquakes from last week were on the imbricate thrust faults overlying the Flores Thrust. See the map from Silver et al. (1986) below. I include the same maps as in my original report, but after those, I include the figures from Koulani et al. (2016) (the paper is available on researchgate).

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    2018.08.15 M 6.6 Aleutians

    Well, yesterday while I was installing the final window in a reconstruction project, there was an earthquake along the Aleutian Island Arc (a subduction zone) in the region of the Andreanof Islands. Here is the USGS website for the M 6.6 earthquake. This earthquake is close to the depth of the megathrust fault, but maybe not close enough. So, this may be on the subduction zone, but may also be on an upper plate fault (I interpret this due to the compressive earthquake fault mechanism). The earthquake has a hypocentral depth of 20 km and the slab model (see Hayes et al., 2013 below and in the poster) is at 40 km at this location. There is uncertainty in both the slab model and the hypocentral depth.

    The Andreanof Islands is one of the most active parts of the Aleutian Arc. There have been many historic earthquakes here, some of which have been tsunamigenic (in fact, the email that notified me of this earthquake was from the ITIC Tsunami Bulletin Board).

    Possibly the most significant earthquake was the 1957 Andreanof Islands M 8.6 Great (M ≥ 8.0) earthquake, though the 1986 M 8.0 Great earthquake is also quite significant. As was the 1996 M 7.9 and 2003 M 7.8 earthquakes. Lest we forget smaller earthquakes, like the 2007 M 7.2. So many earthquakes, so little time.

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a centuries seismicity plotted for earthquakes M ≥ 6.6.

    2018.08.18 M 8.2 Fiji

    We just had a Great Earthquake in the region of the Fiji Islands, in the central-western Pacific. Great Earthquakes are earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 8.0.

    This earthquake is one of the largest earthquakes recorded historically in this region. I include the other Large and Great Earthquakes in the posters below for some comparisons.

    Today’s earthquake has a Moment Magnitude of M = 8.2. The depth is over 550 km, so is very very deep. This region has an historic record of having deep earthquakes here. Here is the USGS website for this M 8.2 earthquake. While I was writing this, there was an M 6.8 deep earthquake to the northeast of the M 8.2. The M 6.8 is much shallower (about 420 km deep) and also a compressional earthquake, in contrast to the extensional M 8.2.

    This M 8.2 earthquake occurred along the Tonga subduction zone, which is a convergent plate boundary where the Pacific plate on the east subducts to the west, beneath the Australia plate. This subduction zone forms the Tonga trench.

    • Here is the map with a centuries seismicity plotted with M ≥ 7.5.

    2018.08.19 M 6.9 Lombok, Indonesia

    This ongoing sequence began in late July with a Mw 6.4 earthquake. Followed less than 2 weeks later with a Mw 6.9 earthquake.

    Today there was an M 6.3 soon followed by an M 6.9 earthquake (and a couple M 5.X quakes).

    These earthquakes have been occurring along a thrust fault system along the northern portion of Lombok, Indonesia, an island in the magamatic arc related to the Sunda subduction zone. The Flores thrust fault is a backthrust to the subduction zone. The tectonics are complicated in this region of the world and there are lots of varying views on the tectonic history. However, there has been several decades of work on the Flores thrust (e.g. Silver et al., 1986). The Flores thrust is an east-west striking (oriented) north vergent (dipping to the south) thrust fault that extends from eastern Java towards the Islands of Flores and Timor. Above the main thrust fault are a series of imbricate (overlapping) thrust faults. These imbricate thrust faults are shallower in depth than the main Flores thrust.

    The earthquakes that have been happening appear to be on these shallower thrust faults, but there is a possibility that they are activating the Flores thrust itself. Perhaps further research will illuminate the relations between these shallower faults and the main player, the Flores thrust.

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is an updated local scale (large scale) map showing the earthquake fault mechanisms for the current sequence. I label them with yellow numbers according to the sequence timing. I outlined the general areas that have had earthquakes into two zones (phases). Phase I includes the earthquakes up until today and Phase II includes the earthquakes from today. There is some overlap, but only for a few earthquakes. In general, it appears that the earthquakes have slipped in two areas of the Flores fault (or maybe two shallower thrust faults).

    • Here is the interpretive posted from the M 6.4 7/28 earthquake, with historic seismicity and earthquake mechanisms.

    2018.08.21 M 7.3 Venezuela

    We just had a M 7.3 earthquake in northern Venezuela. Sadly, this large earthquake has the potential to be quite damaging to people and their belongings (buildings, infrastructure).

    The northeastern part of Venezuela lies a large strike-slip plate boundary fault, the El Pilar fault. This fault is rather complicated as it strikes through the region. There are thrust faults and normal faults forming ocean basins and mountains along strike.

    Many of the earthquakes along this fault system are strike-slip earthquakes (e.g. the 1997.07.09 M 7.0 earthquake which is just to the southwest of today’s temblor. However, today’s earthquake broke my immediate expectations for strike-slip tectonics. There is a south vergent (dipping to the north) thrust fault system that strikes (is oriented) east-west along the Península de Paria, just north of highway 9, east of Carupano, Venezuela. Audenard et al. (2000, 2006) compiled a Quaternary Fault database for Venezuela, which helps us interpret today’s earthquake. I suspect that this earthquake occurred on this thrust fault system. I bet those that work in this area even know the name of this fault. However, looking at the epicenter and the location of the thrust fault, this is probably not on this thrust fault. When I initially wrote this report, the depth was much shallower. Currently, the hypocentral (3-D location) depth is 123 km, so cannot be on that thrust fault.

    The best alternative might be the subduction zone associated with the Lesser Antilles.

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted, along with USGS earthquakes M ≥ 6.0.

    2018.08.24 M 7.1 Peru

    Well, this earthquake, while having a large magnitude, was quite deep. Because earthquake intensity decreases with distance from the earthquake source, the shaking intensity from this earthquake was so low that nobody submitted a single report to the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website for this earthquake.

    While doing my lit review, I found the Okal and Bina (1994) paper where they use various methods to determine focal mechanisms for the some deep earthquakes in northern Peru. More about focal mechanisms below. These authors created focal mechanisms for the 1921 and 1922 deep earthquakes so they could lean more about the 1970 deep earthquake. Their seminal work here forms an important record of deep earthquakes globally. These three earthquakes are all extensional earthquakes, similar to the other deep earthquakes in this region. I label the 1921 and 1922 earthquakes a couplet on the poster.

    There was also a pair of earthquakes that happened in November, 2015. These two earthquakes happened about 5 minutes apart. They have many similar characteristics, suggest that they slipped similar faults, if not the same fault. I label these as doublets also.

    So, there may be a doublet companion to today’s M 7.1 earthquake. However, there may be not. There are examples of both (single and doublet) and it might not really matter for 99.99% of the people on Earth since the seismic hazard from these deep earthquakes is very low.

    Other examples of doublets include the 2006 | 2007 Kuril Doublets (Ammon et al., 2008) and the 2011 Kermadec Doublets (Todd and Lay, 2013).

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted, along with USGS earthquakes M ≥ 7.0.

    2018.09.05 M 6.6 Hokkaido, Japan

    Following the largest typhoon to strike Japan in a very long time, there was an earthquake on the island of Hokkaido, Japan today. There is lots on social media, including some spectacular views of disastrous and deadly landslides triggered by this earthquake (earthquakes are the number 1 source for triggering of landslides). These landslides may have been precipitated (sorry for the pun) by the saturation of hillslopes from the typhoon. Based upon the USGS PAGER estimate, this earthquake has the potential to cause significant economic damages, but hopefully a small number of casualties. As far as I know, this does not incorporate potential losses from earthquake triggered landslides [yet].

    This earthquake is in an interesting location. to the east of Hokkaido, there is a subduction zone trench formed by the subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the Okhotsk plate (on the north) and the Eurasia plate (to the south). This trench is called the Kuril Trench offshore and north of Hokkaido and the Japan Trench offshore of Honshu.

    One of the interesting things about this region is that there is a collision zone (a convergent plate boundary where two continental plates are colliding) that exists along the southern part of the island of Hokkaido. The Hidaka collision zone is oriented (strikes) in a northwest orientation as a result of northeast-southwest compression. Some suggest that this collision zone is no longer very active, however, there are an abundance of active crustal faults that are spatially coincident with the collision zone.

    Today’s M 6.6 earthquake is a thrust or reverse earthquake that responded to northeast-southwest compression, just like the Hidaka collision zone. However, the hypocentral (3-D) depth was about 33 km. This would place this earthquake deeper than what most of the active crustal faults might reach. The depth is also much shallower than where we think that the subduction zone megathrust fault is located at this location (the fault formed between the Pacific and the Okhotsk or Eurasia plates). Based upon the USGS Slab 1.0 model (Hayes et al., 2012), the slab (roughly the top of the Pacific plate) is between 80 and 100 km. So, the depth is too shallow for this hypothesis (Kuril Trench earthquake) and the orientation seems incorrect. Subduction zone earthquakes along the trench are oriented from northwest-southweast compression, a different orientation than today’s M 6.6.

    So today’s M 6.6 earthquake appears to have been on a fault deeper than the crustal faults, possibly along a deep fault associated with the collision zone. Though I am not really certain. This region is complicated (e.g. Kita et al., 2010), but there are some interpretations of the crust at this depth range (Iwasaki et al., 2004) shown in an interpreted cross section below.

    • Here is the map with a centuries seismicity plotted.

    Temblor Reports:

    • Click on the graphic to see a pdf version of the article.
    • Click on the html link (date) to visit the Temblor site.
    2018.09.06 Violent shaking triggers massive landslides in Sapporo Japan earthquake

    2018.09.09 M 6.9 Kermadec

    Today, there was a large earthquake associated with the subduction zone that forms the Kermadec Trench.

    This earthquake was quite deep, so was not expected to generate a significant tsunami (if one at all).

    There are several analogies to today’s earthquake. There was a M 7.4 earthquake in a similar location, but much deeper. These are an interesting comparison because the M 7.4 was compressional and the M 6.9 was extensional. There is some debate about what causes ultra deep earthquakes. The earthquakes that are deeper than about 40-50 km are not along subduction zone faults, but within the downgoing plate. This M 6.9 appears to be in a part of the plate that is bending (based on the Benz et al., 2011 cross section). As plates bend downwards, the upper part of the plate gets extended and the lower part of the plate experiences compression.

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a centuries seismicity plotted.

    2018.09.28 M 7.5 Sulawesi

  • 2018.10.16 M 7.5 Sulawesi UPDATE #1
  • Well, around 3 AM my time (northeastern Pacific, northern CA) there was a sequence of earthquakes including a mainshock with a magnitude M = 7.5. This earthquake happened in a highly populated region of Indonesia.

    This area of Indonesia is dominated by a left-lateral (sinistral) strike-slip plate boundary fault system. Sulawesi is bisected by the Palu-Kola / Matano fault system. These faults appear to be an extension of the Sorong fault, the sinistral strike-slip fault that cuts across the northern part of New Guinea.

    There have been a few earthquakes along the Palu-Kola fault system that help inform us about the sense of motion across this fault, but most have maximum magnitudes mid M 6.

    GPS and block modeling data suggest that the fault in this area has a slip rate of about 40 mm/yr (Socquet et al., 2006). However, analysis of offset stream channels provides evidence of a lower slip rate for the Holocene (last 12,000 years), a rate of about 35 mm/yr (Bellier et al., 2001). Given the short time period for GPS observations, the GPS rate may include postseismic motion earlier earthquakes, though these numbers are very close.

    Using empirical relations for historic earthquakes compiled by Wells and Coppersmith (1994), Socquet et al. (2016) suggest that the Palu-Koro fault system could produce a magnitude M 7 earthquake once per century. However, studies of prehistoric earthquakes along this fault system suggest that, over the past 2000 years, this fault produces a magnitude M 7-8 earthquake every 700 years (Bellier et al., 2006). So, it appears that this is the characteristic earthquake we might expect along this fault.

    Most commonly, we associate tsunamigenic earthquakes with subduction zones and thrust faults because these are the types of earthquakes most likely to deform the seafloor, causing the entire water column to be lifted up. Strike-slip earthquakes can generate tsunami if there is sufficient submarine topography that gets offset during the earthquake. Also, if a strike-slip earthquake triggers a landslide, this could cause a tsunami. We will need to wait until people take a deeper look into this before we can make any conclusions about the tsunami and what may have caused it.

    • There have been tsunami waves recorded on a tide gage over 300 km to the south of the epicenter, at a site called Mumuju. Below is a map and a plot of water surface elevations from this source.


    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a centuries worth of seismicity plotted.

    Here is a map that shows the updated USGS model of ground shaking. The USGS prepared an updated earthquake fault slip model that was additionally informed by post-earthquake analysis of ground deformation. The original fault model extended from north of the epicenter to the northernmost extent of Palu City. Soon after the earthquake, Dr. Sotiris Valkaniotis prepared a map that showed large horizontal offsets across the ruptured fault along the entire length of the western margin on Palu Valley. This horizontal offset had an estimated ~8 meters of relative displacement. InSAR analyses confirmed that the coseismic ground deformation extended through Palu Valley and into the mountains to the south of the valley.


    My 2018.10.01 BC Newshour Interview

    InSAR Analysis

    Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is a remote sensing method that uses Radar to make observations of Earth. These observations include the position of the ground surface, along with other information about the material properties of the Earth’s surface.

    Interferometric SAR (InSAR) utilizes two separate SAR data sets to determine if the ground surface has changed over time, the time between when these 2 data sets were collected. More about InSAR can be found here and here. Explaining the details about how these data are analyzed is beyond the scope of this report. I rely heavily on the expertise of those who do this type of analysis, for example Dr. Eric Fielding.

    • I prepared a map using the NASA-JPL InSAR data. They post all their data online here. I used the tiff image as it is georeferenced. However, some may prefer to use the kmz file in Google Earth.
    • I include the faults mapped by Wilkinson and Hall (2017), the PGA contours from the USGS model results. More on Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) can be found here. I also include the spatial extent of the largest landslides that I mapped using post-earthquake satellite imagery provided by Digital Globe using their open source imagery program.


    M 7.5 Landslide Model vs. Observation Comparison

    Landslides during and following the M=7.5 earthquake in central Sulawesi, Indonesia possibly caused the majority of casualties from this catastrophic natural disaster. Volunteers (citizen scientists) have used satellite aerial imagery collected after the earthquake to document the spatial extent and magnitude of damage caused by the earthquake, landslides, and tsunami.
    Until these landslides are analyzed and compared with regions that did not fail in slope failure, we will not be able to reconstruct what happened… why some areas failed and some did not.

    There are landslide slope stability and liquefaction susceptibility models based on empirical data from past earthquakes. The USGS has recently incorporated these types of analyses into their earthquake event pages. More about these USGS models can be found on this page.

    I prepared some maps that compare the USGS landslide and liquefaction probability maps. Below I present these results along with the MMI contours. I also include the faults mapped by Wilkinson and Hall (2017). Shown are the cities of Donggala and Palu. Also shown are the 2 tide gage locations (Pantoloan Port – PP and Mumuju – M). I also used post-earthquake satellite imagery to outline the largest landslides in Palu Valley, ones that appear to be lateral spreads.

    • Here is the landslide probability map (Jessee et al., 2018). Below the poster I include the text from the USGS website that describes how this model is prepared.


    Nowicki Jessee and others (2018) is the preferred model for earthquake-triggered landslide hazard. Our primary landslide model is the empirical model of Nowicki Jessee and others (2018). The model was developed by relating 23 inventories of landslides triggered by past earthquakes with different combinations of predictor variables using logistic regression. The output resolution is ~250 m. The model inputs are described below. More details about the model can be found in the original publication. We modify the published model by excluding areas with slopes <5° and changing the coefficient for the lithology layer "unconsolidated sediments" from -3.22 to -1.36, the coefficient for "mixed sedimentary rocks" to better reflect that this unit is expected to be weak (more negative coefficient indicates stronger rock).To exclude areas of insignificantly small probabilities in the computation of aggregate statistics for this model, we use a probability threshold of 0.002.

    • Here is the liquefaction probability (susceptibility) map (Zhu et al., 2017). Note that the regions of low slopes in the valleys and coastal plains are the areas with a high chance of experiencing liquefaction. Areas of slopes >5° are excluded from this analysis.
    • Note that the large landslides (yellow polygons) are not in regions of high probability for liquefaction.


    Zhu and others (2017) is the preferred model for liquefaction hazard. The model was developed by relating 27 inventories of liquefaction triggered by past earthquakes to globally-available geospatial proxies (summarized below) using logistic regression. We have implemented the global version of the model and have added additional modifications proposed by Baise and Rashidian (2017), including a peak ground acceleration (PGA) threshold of 0.1 g and linear interpolation of the input layers. We also exclude areas with slopes >5°. We linearly interpolate the original input layers of ~1 km resolution to 500 m resolution. The model inputs are described below. More details about the model can be found in the original publication.

    Temblor Reports:

    • Click on the graphic to see a pdf version of the article.
    • Click on the html link (date) to visit the Temblor site.
    2018.09.28 The Palu-Koro fault ruptures in a M=7.5 quake in Sulawesi, Indonesia, triggering a tsunami and likely more shocks
    2018.10.03 Tsunami in Sulawesi, Indonesia, triggered by earthquake, landslide, or both
    2018.10.16 Coseismic Landslides in Sulawesi, Indonesia

    2018.10.10 M 7.0 New Britain, PNG

    In this region of the world, the Solomon Sea plate and the South Bismarck plate converge to form a subduction zone, where the Solomon Sea plate is the oceanic crust diving beneath the S.Bismarck plate.

    The subduction zone forms the New Britain Trench with an axis that trends east-northeast. To the east of New Britain, the subduction zone bends to the southeast to form the San Cristobal and South Solomon trenches. Between these two subduction zones is a series of oceanic spreading ridges sequentially offset by transform (strike slip) faults.

    Earthquakes along the megathrust at the New Britain trench are oriented with the maximum compressive stress oriented north-northwest (perpendicular to the trench). Likewise, the subduction zone megathrust earthquakes along the S. Solomon trench compress in a northeasterly direction (perpendicular to that trench).

    There is also a great strike slip earthquake that shows that the transform faults are active.

    This earthquake was too small and too deep to generate a tsunami.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    Temblor Reports:

    • Click on the graphic to see a pdf version of the article.
    • Click on the html link (date) to visit the Temblor site.
    2018.10.10 M 7.5 Earthquake in New Britain, Papua New Guinea

    2018.10.22 M 6.8 Explorer plate

    This region of the Pacific-North America plate boundary is at the northern end of the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ). To the east, the Explorer and Juan de Fuca plates subduct beneath the North America plate to form the megathrust subduction zone fault capable of producing earthquakes in the magnitude M = 9 range. The last CSZ earthquake was in January of 1700, just almost 319 years ago.

    The Juan de Fuca plate is created at an oceanic spreading center called the Juan de Fuca Ridge. This spreading ridge is offset by several transform (strike-slip) faults. At the southern terminus of the JDF Ridge is the Blanco fault, a transtensional transform fault connecting the JDF and Gorda ridges.

    At the northern terminus of the JDF Ridge is the Sovanco transform fault that strikes to the northwest of the JDF Ridge. There are additional fracture zones parallel and south of the Sovanco fault, called the Heck, Heckle, and Springfield fracture zones.

    The first earthquake (M = 6.6) appears to have slipped along the Sovanco fault as a right-lateral strike-slip earthquake. Then the M 6.8 earthquake happened and, given the uncertainty of the location for this event, occurred on a fault sub-parallel to the Sovanco fault. Then the M 6.5 earthquake hit, back on the Sovanco fault.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    2018.10.25 M 6.8 Greece

    Before I looked more closely, I thought this sequence might be related to the Kefallonia fault. I prepared some earthquake reports for earthquakes here in the past, in 2015 and in 2016.

    Both of those earthquakes were right-lateral strike-slip earthquakes associated with the Kefallonia fault.

    However, today’s earthquake sequence was further to the south and east of the strike-slip fault, in a region experiencing compression from the Ionian Trench subduction zone. But there is some overlap of these different plate boundaries, so the M 6.8 mainshock is an oblique earthquake (compressional and strike-slip). Based upon the sequence, I interpret this earthquake to be right-lateral oblique. I could be wrong.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the tide gage data from Katakolo, which is only 65 km from the M 6.8 epicenter.

    Temblor Reports:

    • Click on the graphic to see a pdf version of the article.
    • Click on the html link (date) to visit the Temblor site.
    2018.10.26 Greek earthquake in a region of high seismic hazard

    2018.11.08 M 6.8 Mid Atlantic Ridge (Jan Mayen fracture zone)

    There was a M = 6.8 earthquake along a transform fault connecting segments of the Mid Atlantic Ridge recently.

    North of Iceland, the MAR is offset by many small and several large transform faults. The largest transform fault north of Iceland is called the Jan Mayen fracture zone, which is the location for the 2018.11.08 M = 6.8 earthquake.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the large scale map showing earthquake mechanisms for historic earthquakes in the region. Note how they mostly behave well (are almost perfectly aligned with the Jan Mayen fracture zone). There are a few exceptions, including an extensional earthquake possibly associated with extension on the MAR (2010.06.03 M = 5.6). Also, 2 earthquakes (2003.06.19 and 2005.07.25) are show oblique slip (not pure strike-slip as they have an amount of compressional motion) near the intersection of the fracture zone and the MAR.

    2018.11.30 M 7.0 Alaska

    Today’s earthquake occurred along the convergent plate boundary in southern Alaska. This subduction zone fault is famous for the 1964 March 27 M = 9.2 megathrust earthquake. I describe this earthquake in more detail here.

    During the 1964 earthquake, the downgoing Pacific plate slipped past the North America plate, including slip on “splay faults” (like the Patton fault, no relation, heheh). There was deformation along the seafloor that caused a transoceanic tsunami.

    The Pacific plate has pre-existing zones of weakness related to fracture zones and spreading ridges where the plate formed and are offset. There was an earthquake in January 2016 that may have reactivated one of these fracture zones. This earthquake (M = 7.1) was very deep (~130 km), but still caused widespread damage.

    The earthquake appears to have a depth of ~40 km and the USGS model for the megathrust fault (slab 2.0) shows the megathrust to be shallower than this earthquake. There are generally 2 ways that may explain the extensional earthquake: slab tension (the downgoing plate is pulling down on the slab, causing extension) or “bending moment” extension (as the plate bends downward, the top of the plate stretches out.

  • Temblor Report
    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    Temblor Reports:

    • Click on the graphic to see a pdf version of the article.
    • Click on the html link (date) to visit the Temblor site.
    2018.11.30 Exotic M=7.0 earthquake strikes beneath Anchorage, Alaska
    2018.12.11 What the Anchorage earthquake means for the Bay Area, Southern California, Seattle, and Salt Lake City

    2018.12.05 M 7.5 New Caledonia

    There was a sequence of earthquakes along the subduction zone near New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.

    This part of the plate boundary is quite active and I have a number of earthquake reports from the past few years (see below, a list of earthquake reports for this region).

    But the cool thing from a plate tectonics perspective is that there was a series of different types of earthquakes. At first view, it appears that there was a mainshock with a magnitude of M = 7.5. There was a preceding M 6.0 earthquake which may have been a foreshock.

    The M 7.5 earthquake was an extensional earthquake. This may be due to either extension from slab pull or due to extension from bending of the plate. More on this later.

    Following the M 7.5, there was an M 6.6 earthquake, however, this was a thrust or reverse (compressional) earthquake. The M 6.6 may have been in the upper plate or along the subduction zone megathrust fault, but we won’t know until the earthquake locations are better determined.

    A similar sequence happened in October/November 2017. I prepared two reports for this sequence here and here. Albeit, in 2017, the thrust earthquake was first (2017.10.31 vs. 2017.11.19).

    There have been some observations of tsunami. Below is from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    2018.12.20 M 7.4 Bering Kresla

  • 2018.12.20 M 7.3 Bering Kresla UPDATE #1
  • A large earthquake in the region of the Bering Kresla fracture zone, a strike-slip fault system that coincides with the westernmost portion of the Aleutian trench (which is a subduction zone further to the east).

    This earthquake happened in an interesting region of the world where there is a junction between two plate boundaries, the Kamchatka subduction zone with the Aleutian subduction zone / Bering-Kresla Shear Zone. The Kamchatka Trench (KT) is formed by the subduction (a convergent plate boundary) beneath the Okhotsk plate (part of North America). The Aleutian Trench (AT) and Bering-Kresla Shear Zone (BKSZ) are formed by the oblique subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the Pacific plate. There is a deflection in the Kamchatka subduction zone north of the BKSZ, where the subduction trench is offset to the west. Some papers suggest the subduction zone to the north is a fossil (inactive) plate boundary fault system. There are also several strike-slip faults subparallel to the BKSZ to the north of the BKSZ.

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted, including the age of the crust.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted, with earthquakes M ≥ 6.0, including the age of the crust.

    UPDATE #1

    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted, with earthquakes M ≥ 6.0.

    2018.12.29 M 7.0 Philippines

    This magnitude M = 7.0 earthquake is related to the subduction zone that forms the Philippine trench (where the Philippine Sea plate subducts beneath the Sunda plate). Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.

    The earthquake was quite deep, which makes it less likely to cause damage to people and their belongings (e.g. houses and roads) and also less likely that the earthquake will trigger a trans-oceanic tsunami.

    Here are the tidal data:


    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

    Return to the Earthquake Reports page.

    Posted in africa, alaska, arctic, asia, atlantic, caribbean, cascadia, collision, earthquake, education, geology, Indonesia, landslides, mediterranean, mexico, pacific, plate tectonics, subduction, Transform, tsunami, volcanoes

    Earthquake Report: Philippines

    Earlier there was an earthquake in the Philippines. This magnitude M = 7.0 earthquake is related to the subduction zone that forms the Philippine trench (where the Philippine Sea plate subducts beneath the Sunda plate). Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.

    The earthquake was quite deep, which makes it less likely to cause damage to people and their belongings (e.g. houses and roads) and also less likely that the earthquake will trigger a trans-oceanic tsunami. There may be a small tsunami in the region, but this is also not very likely.

    There have been many large earthquakes in this part of the subduction zone in the 20th and 21st centuries. Based on the historic pattern, it is possible that there may be another earthquake of similar magnitude in the near to distant future (within a year or two). It is also possible that there may be a larger magnitude earthquake.

    Look at the pair of earthquakes that occurred on 17 May 2017. The M = 7.1 earthquake preceded the M = 7.3 earthquake by less than an hour. While, the 1995.05.05 M = 7.1 and 1996.06.11 M = 7.1 earthquakes happened about a year from each other.

    There may have been a small tsunami at Lahad Datu, Sabah (~1,000 km to the west of the earthquake, shown as a yellow square on the poster below). The earthquake happened at about 03:39:09 (UTC) and the plot below uses this same time reference. The wave begins at around 05:00. A rough estimate using the shallow water equation and an average water depth (Celebes Sea) suggests that the wave might have traveled 712 km/hr (so this 5:00 arrival appears close to the time it might take to get there).

    Here are the tidal data:


    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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 7.0 in one version.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

      I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the lower left corner is a map from Smoczyk et al. (2013) that shows historic seismicity and the major plate boundaries. I place a blue star in the location of today’s M = 7.0 earthquake.
    • Above this map is a cross section showing seismicity associated with the downgoing Philippine sea plate. The location of this cross section D-D’ is shown on the main map as a cyan line. The 3-D location of the earthquake (hypocenter) is shown on the cross section also.
    • In the upper left corner is a figure from Hall, 2011. This shows the plate tectonic configuration in the equatorial Pacific. Note how the upper panel shows a west dipping slab on the east side of the Philippines. Note the contrast in the center panel (Halmahera), where the eastern fault is dipping to the east (westward vergent) and the western fault is dipping to the west (eastward vergent). This region near Halmahera forms the Molucca Strait, one of the most tectonically active areas in this region.
    • In the lower right corner is a seismic hazard map from Smoczyk et al. (2013) that shows how this region has a high seismic hazard.
    • In the upper right corner is the seismic hazard map from Temblor.net. Temblor.net uses the Global Earth Activity Rate (GEAR) model to provide estimates of seismic hazard at a global to local scale (Bird et al., 2015). GEAR blends quakes during the past 41 years with strain of the Earth’s crust as measured using Global Positioning System (GPS) observations. The model shows that this M = 7.0 earthquake (the largest red dot) happened in a region that may experience an earthquake with a magnitude range of 7.75 < M < 8.0.
    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    Other Report Pages

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is a map that shows a simplified version of the subduction zones in the region (Galgana et al., 2007).

    • Physical map of the Philippines, showing topography and bathymetry. The two opposing subduction zones (the Manila Trench and the Philippine Trench/East Luzon Trough), major plates (SUND and PHSP) and the major Philippine Fault System with splays in Luzon (yellow lines) are mapped (basemap derived from the UNAVCO Jules Verne Navigator).

    • This is the low-angle oblique view of the region (Hall, 2011).

    • 3D cartoon of plate boundaries in the Molucca Sea region modified from Hall et al. (1995). Although seismicity identifies a number of plates there are no continuous boundaries, and the Cotobato, North Sulawesi and Philippine Trenches are all intraplate features. The apparent distinction between different crust types, such as Australian continental crust and oceanic crust of the Philippine and Molucca Sea, is partly a boundary inactive since the Early Miocene (east Sulawesi) and partly a younger but now probably inactive boundary of the Sorong Fault. The upper crust of this entire region is deforming in a much more continuous way than suggested by this cartoon.

    • This is smaller scale tectonic map of the region (Zahirovic et al., 2014).

    • Regional tectonic setting with plate boundaries (MORs/transforms = black, subduction zones = teethed red) from Bird (2003) and ophiolite belts representing sutures modified from Hutchison (1975) and Baldwin et al. (2012). West Sulawesi basalts are from Polvé et al. (1997), fracture zones are from Matthews et al. (2011) and basin outlines are from Hearn et al. (2003). ANI – Andaman and Nicobar Islands, BD– Billiton Depression, Ba – Bangka Island, BI – Belitung (Billiton) Island, BiS – Bismarck Sea, BP – Benham Plateau, CaR – Caroline Ridge, CS – Celebes Sea, DG– Dangerous Grounds, EauR – Eauripik Ridge, FIN – Finisterre Terrane, GoT – Gulf of Thailand, GR– Gagua Ridge, HAL– Halmahera, HBa – Huatung Basin, KB–Ketungau Basin, KP – Khorat Platform, KT – Kiilsgaard Trough, LS – Luconia Shoals, MacB – Macclesfield Bank, ManTr – Manus Trench, MaTr – Mariana Trench, MB– Melawi Basin, MDB– Minami Daito Basin, MG– Mangkalihat, MIN – Mindoro, MN– Mawgyi Nappe, MoS – Molucca Sea, MS– Makassar Straits, MTr – Mussau Trench, NGTr – New Guinea Trench, NI – Natuna Islands, ODR– Oki Daito Ridge, OJP –Ontong Java Plateau, OSF – Owen Stanley Fault, PAL – Palawan, PhF – Philippine Fault, PT – Paternoster Platform, PTr – Palau Trench, PVB – Parece Vela Basin, RB – Reed Bank, RMF– Ramu-Markham Fault, RRF – Red River fault, SEM– Semitau, ShB – Shikoku Basin, Sol. Sea – Solomon Sea, SPK – Sepik, SPT – abah–Palawan Trough, STr – Sorol Trough, Sul – Sulawesi, SuS – Sulu Sea, TPAA– Torricelli–Prince Alexander Arc, WB–West Burma, WCT–W Caroline Trough, YTr –Yap Trough.

    • This is a map and series of cross sections showing subducting plates in blue (Zahirovic et al., 2014). The cross sections are based upon seismic wave tomography, which is similar to CT scans (Computed Tomography of X-Rays). These two processes use the same general methods to investigate the 3-dimensional views of internal structures (bodies vs. the Earth). More can be found in their paper, but basically, the blue regions represent areas that have higher seismic velocity. Oceanic lithosphere has higher seismic velocities than the surrounding mantle. So, the subducting oceanic slabs show up as blue. The corss section G-G’ is at about the same latitude as the M = 7.0 earthquake. Note that the Philippine sea plate subducting at the Philippine trench (dipping to the west/left) is evident, while the slab associated with the Cotobato trench does not appear visible. Compare this with the seismicity cross section from Smoczyck et al. (2013), where the Cotobato trench seismicity is much more shallow than the Philippine trench.

    • Vertical sections from MIT-P (Li et al., 2008) and GyPSuM-S (Simmons et al., 2009) seismic tomography models along profiles A to E (magenta lines). The first-order differences between the P- and S-wave models is that the amplitude of the positive seismic velocity anomalies significantly diminishes away from continental coverage (e.g., dashed lines in profiles A and B). A depth slice at 746 km from MIT-P isprovided for reference with super-imposed present-day coastlines and plate boundaries. Interpreted slab sources are labeled: GI-BA= Greater India–Neo-Tethyan back-arc slab, M/N-T – Meso- and Neo-Tethyan slabs, W-S –Woyla–Sunda slabs, S – Sunda slab, PSCS – proto-South China Sea slab, PAC – Pacific slab, PMOL– proto-Molucca slab, PSOL – proto-Solomon slab, CS – Caroline slab, PSP – Philippine Sea Plate slab, S-C = Sulu–Celebes slabs.

    • However, here is a figure that shows isosurfaces from their tomography models (Zahirovic et al., 2014). This shows what may be slabs related to the Cotobato trench (western part of G-G’ cross section). These slabs show up better on the lower figure.

    • 3-D visualization of +0.2% seismic velocity anomaly isosurfaces in MIT-P (top) and +0.9% seismic velocity perturbation in GyPSuM-S (bottom) models. Profiles A to G represent the vertical profiles (see Fig. 10) that capture the convergence and subduction histories of the region since the Cretaceous. Present-day coastlines are translucent grey shades, and present-day plate boundaries are translucent black lines. Slab volumes are colored by their depth, while the light blue color represents the interior surface of these slabs. PSCS – proto-South China Sea slab.

    • This map shows the seismic hazard for this region. The color represents the likelihood of any region experiencing ground shaking of a particular magnitude. The scale is “Peak Ground Acceleration.” Units are m/s^2. Purple represents gravitational acceleration of 1 g, gravity at Earth’s surface. Note how most of the earthquakes were in the region of higher likely ground shaking, except for the Sulawesi earthquakes.

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

      References:

    • Bird, P., Jackson, D. D., Kagan, Y. Y., Kreemer, C., and Stein, R. S., 2015. GEAR1: A global earthquake activity rate model constructed from geodetic strain rates and smoothed seismicity, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., v. 105, no. 5, p. 2538–2554, DOI: 10.1785/0120150058
    • Galgana, G., Hamburger, M., McCaffrey, R., Corpuz, E., and Chen, Q., 2007. Analysis of crustal deformation in Luzon, Philippines using geodetic observations and earthquake focal mechanisms in Tectonophysics, v. 432, p. 63-67., doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2006.12.001
    • Hall, R., 2011. Australia–SE Asia collision: plate tectonics and crustal flow in Hall, R., Cottam, M. A. &Wilson, M. E. J. (eds) The SE Asian Gateway: History and Tectonics of the Australia–Asia Collision. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 355, 75–109.
    • Hayes, G., 2018, Slab2 – A Comprehensive Subduction Zone Geometry Model: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7PV6JNV.
    • Noda, A., 2013. Strike-Slip Basin – Its Configuration and Sedimentary Facies in Mechanism of Sedimentary Basin Formation – Multidisciplinary Approach on Active Plate Margins http://www.intechopen.com/books/mechanism-of-sedimentarybasin-formation-multidisciplinary-approach-on-active-plate-margins http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/56593
    • Smoczyk, G.M., Hayes, G.P., Hamburger, M.W., Benz, H.M., Villaseñor, Antonio, and Furlong, K.P., 2013. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2012 Philippine Sea plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-M, 1 sheet, scale 1:10,000,000.
    • Waltham et al., 2008. Basin formation by volcanic arc loading in GSA Special Papers 2008, v. 436, p. 11-26.
    • Zahirovic et al., 2014. The Cretaceous and Cenozoic tectonic evolution of Southeast Asia in Solid Earth, v. 5, p. 227-273, doi:10.5194/se-5-227-2014.

    Return to the Earthquake Reports page.

    Posted in earthquake, pacific, plate tectonics, subduction

    Earthquake Report: Bering Kresla Update #1

    Well, the USGS updated their earthquake mechanism (moment tensor) to be more steeply dipping, showing a more vertical fault possibly. This makes more sense given the historic earthquakes in this region and our knowledge of the history of this complicated plate boundary. The USGS also updated their model of shaking intensity (MMI) and revised the magnitude to M =7.3 (though I keep M = 7.4 in these reports to avoid confusion).

    I present a larger scale map with more historic earthquake mechanisms below.

    These historic mechanisms reveal something about how the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Okhotsk plate (part of North America). Read more about the tectonics and my initial interpretation of this earthquake in the first earthquake report here.

    The M = 7.4 earthquake from yesterday clearly ruptured the Aleutian fracture zone (AFZ), which is part of the Bering Kresla Shear zone. There is a series of aftershocks that plot to the southwest of the mainshock, but these are mislocated. The M =7.4 was originally located to the southwest also (off of the fault), but has since been relocated. So, I suspect that these aftershocks could be relocated also, if someone were to work on them (e.g. double difference analysis). The 1978.03.03 M 6.2 earthquake is a great analogy for this M 7.4 as it is in the same location and has a nice right-lateral strike slip focal mechanism.

    The relative motion between the Pacific plate and North America plate here is parallel to the plate boundary, giving rise to this shear zone. To the west, the Pacific plate subducts beneath the Okhotsk plate to form the Kuril/Kamchatka trench.

    We can see strike slip earthquakes west of the trench (1984.11.01 and 1986.05.02). Further to the west, there are some earthquakes that show the convergence associated with this subduction margin (1983.01.09, 1982.11.21, 1997.12.05). The Aleutian fracture zone exists within the Pacific plate as it dives beneath the Okhotsk plate,as evidenced by the 2004.04.14 M = 6.2 earthquake.

    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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 6.0 in one version.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

      Magnetic Anomalies

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
    • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.

      I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the upper right corner I include a map that shows more details about the faulting in the region (Konstantinovskaia (2001).
    • In the upper left corner is a map from Gaedicke et a. (2000) that shows a detailed map of the faulting in the region. Note that there are strike-slip, normal, and thrust faults all overlapping in cool ways. When I wrote my intitial report, I hypothesized that the M = 7.4 earthquake was extensional and one of the reasons this may happen here is that there are normal faults (extensional) that form sedimentary basins in this area (e.g. the Steller Basin).
    • In the lower center, I present a cross section (seismic reflection data) showing the bathymetry from A-A’ (location shown on upper left map and the main map as a green bar bell line) from Gaedicke et al. (2000). Note the different fracture zones. I place a blue star in the general location of the M = 7.4 earthquake.
    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted, with earthquakes M ≥ 6.0.

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is the large scale map from Gaedicke et al. (2000). Note that the map in the poster is rotated so that north is up, because in this map, north is not “up.” Note the location of the cross sections A-A’ and B-B’.

    • Here are the two cross sections (seismic reflection) showing the topography created by these fracture zones (Gaedicke et al., 2000). The lower cross section shows a basin formed by the transtension (extension associated with a strike-slip fault) along the Bering fracture zone.

    • Here is the more detailed tectonic map from Konstantinovskaia et al. (2001).


    • This is the cross section associated with the above map, showing subduction at the Kuril/Kamchatka trench.


    • Below are a series of maps that show the tectonic history in the northwest Pacific. This helps us learn how the plate boundary of the westernmost Aleutian trench is very different from the history of the subduction zone further to the east (responsible for the 1964 Good Friday earthquake for example). The time series begins at the beginning of the Tertiary at about 65 million years ago.



    • Finally, here I present tide gage records from the IOC sea level monitoring website. The M = 7.4 earthquake occurred at 2018-12-20 17:01:55 (UTC) and these plots use the UTC time scale. We may observe that there were no tsunami recorded at these gages here and here.


    • However, if we take a look at some DART buoy data, we do see some perturbations. Dr. Lori Dengler (emeritus professor at the Humboldt State University, Department of Geology) suggests that these data show surface waves being recorded by these sensors. Below are plots from this buoy. The upper panel are the raw data and the lower panel are the data relative to the prediction.


    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

      Social Media

      References:

    • Bindeman, I.N., Vinogradov, V.I., Valley, J.W., Wooden, J.L., and Natal’in, B.A., 2002. Archean Protolith and Accretion of Crust in Kamchatka: SHRIMP Dating of Zircons from Sredinny and Ganal Massifs in The Journal of Geology, v. 110, p. 271-289.
    • Gaedicke, C., Baranov, B., Seliverstov, N., Alexeiev, D., Tsdukanaov, N., and Freitag, R., 2000. Structure of an active arc-continent collision area: the Aleutian–Kamchatka junction in Tecrtonophysics, v. 325, p. 63-85.
    • Hayes, G., 2018, Slab2 – A Comprehensive Subduction Zone Geometry Model: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7PV6JNV.
    • Konstantinovskaia, E.A., 2001. Arc-continent collision and subduction reversal in the Cenozoic evolution of the Northwest Pacific: and example from Kamchatka (NE Russia) in Tectonophysics, v. 333, p. 75-94.
    • Koulakov, I.Y., Dobretsov, N.L., Bushenkova, N.A., and Yakovlev, A.V., 2011. Slab shape in subduction zones beneath the Kurile–Kamchatka and Aleutian arcs based on regional tomography results in Russian Geology and Geophysics, v. 52, p. 650-667.
    • Krutikov, L., et al., 2008. Active Tectonics and Seismic Potential of Alaska, Geophysical Monograph Series 179, doi:10.1029/179GM07
    • Lay, T., H. Kanamori, C. J. Ammon, A. R. Hutko, K. Furlong, and L. Rivera, 2009. The 2006 – 2007 Kuril Islands great earthquake sequence in J. Geophys. Res., 114, B11308, doi:10.1029/2008JB006280.
    • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model. doi:10.7289/V5H70CVX
    • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model. doi:10.7289/V5H70CVX
    • Müller, R.D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C. and Roest, W.R., 2008, Age spreading rates and spreading asymmetry of the world’s ocean crust in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9, Q04006, doi:10.1029/2007GC001743
    • Portnyagin, M. and Manea, V.C., 2008. Mantle temperature control on composition of arc magmas along the Central Kamchatka Depression in Geology, v. 36, no. 7, p. 519-522.
    • Rhea, Susan, Tarr, A.C., Hayes, Gavin, Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., and Benz, H.M., 2010, Seismicity of the earth 1900–2007, Kuril-Kamchatka arc and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-C, scale 1:5,000,000.

    Return to the Earthquake Reports page.

    Posted in Uncategorized

    Earthquake Report: Bering Kresla / Pacific plate

    We just had a large earthquake in the region of the Bering Kresla fracture zone, a strike-slip fault system that coincides with the westernmost portion of the Aleutian trench (which is a subduction zone further to the east).

    At first, when I noticed the location, I hypothesized that this may be a strike-slip earthquake. womp womp. The earthquake mechanism from the USGS shows that this M = 7.4 earthquake was a normal fault earthquake (extension).

    This earthquake happened in an interesting region of the world where there is a junction between two plate boundaries, the Kamchatka subduction zone with the Aleutian subduction zone / Bering-Kresla Shear Zone. The Kamchatka Trench (KT) is formed by the subduction (a convergent plate boundary) beneath the Okhotsk plate (part of North America). The Aleutian Trench (AT) and Bering-Kresla Shear Zone (BKSZ) are formed by the oblique subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the Pacific plate. There is a deflection in the Kamchatka subduction zone north of the BKSZ, where the subduction trench is offset to the west. Some papers suggest the subduction zone to the north is a fossil (inactive) plate boundary fault system. There are also several strike-slip faults subparallel to the BKSZ to the north of the BKSZ.

    Today’s M = 7.4 earthquake shows northwest-southeast directed extension. This is consistent with slab tension in the direction of the Kurile subduction zone. It may also represent extension due to bending in the Pacific plate, but this seems less likely to me. Basically, the Pacific plate, as it subducts beneath the Okhotsk plate, the downgoing slab (the plate) exerts forces on the rest of the plate that pulls it down, into the subduction zone.

    A second cool thing about this earthquake is that this may be evidence that the Kuril subduction zone extends north of the intersection of the BKSZ with Kamchatka. I discussed this in my earthquake report from 2017 here.

    There are a couple analogy earthquakes, but one is the best. There were several strike-slip earthquakes nearby in 1982, 1987, and 1999. However, there was a M = 6.2 earthquake in almost the same location as the M = 7.4 from today. This M = 6.2 earthquake was slightly deeper (33 km) relative to the M = 7.4 (9.6 km).

    Check out my update here

  • 2018.12.20 M 7.4 Bering Kresla 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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 6.0 in one version.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

      Magnetic Anomalies

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
    • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.

      Age of Oceanic Lithosphere

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the age of the oceanic crust data from Agegrid V 3 (Müller et al., 2008).
    • Because oceanic crust is formed at oceanic spreading ridges, the age of oceanic crust is youngest at these spreading ridges. The youngest crust is red and older crust is yellow (see legend at the top of this poster).

      I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the lower right corner I include a map that shows the tectonic setting of this region, with the major plate boundary faults and volcanic arc designated by triangles (Bindeman et al., 2002). I placed a blue star in the general location of the M 7.4 earthquake. Note the complicated nature of the faulting in this region.
    • In the upper left corner I include a figure from Portnyagin and Manea (2008 ) that shows a low angle oblique view of the downgoing Pacific plate slab. I post this figure and their figure caption below.
    • In the upper right corner I include a map that shows more details about the faulting in the region.
    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted. The lower map shows the age of the crust.


    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted, with earthquakes M ≥ 6.0. The lower map shows the age of the crust.


    Other Report Pages

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is the tectonic map from Bindeman et al., 2002. The original figure caption is below in blockquote.

    • Tectonic setting of the Sredinny and Ganal Massifs in Kamchatka. Kamchatka/Aleutian junction is modified after Gaedicke et al. (2000). Onland geology is after Bogdanov and Khain (2000). 1, Active volcanoes (a) and Holocene monogenic vents (b). 2, Trench (a) and pull-apart basin in the Aleutian transform zone (b). 3, Thrust (a) and normal (b) faults. 4, Strike-slip faults. 5–6, Sredinny Massif. 5, Amphibolite-grade felsic paragneisses of the Kolpakovskaya series. 6, Allochthonous metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks of the Malkinskaya series. 7, The Kvakhona arc. 8, Amphibolites and gabbro (solid circle) of the Ganal Massif. Lower inset shows the global position of Kamchatka. Upper inset shows main Cretaceous-Eocene tectonic units (Bogdanov and Khain 2000): Western Kamchatka (WK) composite unit including the Sredinny Massif, the Kvakhona arc, and the thick pile of Upper Cretaceous marine clastic rocks; Eastern Kamchatka (EK) arc, and Eastern Peninsulas terranes (EPT). Eastern Kamchatka is also known as the Olyutorka-Kamchatka arc (Nokleberg et al. 1998) or the Achaivayam-Valaginskaya arc (Konstantinovskaya 2000), while Eastern Peninsulas terranes are also called Kronotskaya arc (Levashova et al. 2000).

    • This map shows the configuration of the subducting slab. The original figure caption is below in blockquote.

    • Kamchatka subduction zone. A: Major geologic structures at the Kamchatka–Aleutian Arc junction. Thin dashed lines show isodepths to subducting Pacific plate (Gorbatov et al., 1997). Inset illustrates major volcanic zones in Kamchatka: EVB—Eastern Volcanic Belt; CKD—Central
      Kamchatka Depression (rift-like tectonic structure, which accommodates the northern end of EVB); SR—Sredinny Range. Distribution of Quaternary volcanic rocks in EVB and SR is shown in orange and green, respectively. Small dots are active vol canoes. Large circles denote CKD volcanoes: T—Tolbachik; K l — K l y u c h e v s k o y ; Z—Zarechny; Kh—Kharchinsky; Sh—Shiveluch; Shs—Shisheisky Complex; N—Nachikinsky. Location of profiles shown in Figures 2 and 3 is indicated. B: Three dimensional visualization of the Kamchatka subduction zone from the north. Surface relief is shown as semi-transparent layer. Labeled dashed lines and color (blue to red) gradation of subducting plate denote depths to the plate from the earth surface (in km). Bold arrow shows direction of Pacific Plate movement.

    • Here is the more detailed tectonic map from Konstantinovskaia et al. (2001).


    • This is the cross section associated with the above map.


    • Here is the Rhea et al. (2010) poster.

    • Here is a map that shows the seismicity (1960-2014) for this plate boundary. This is the spatial extent for the videos below.

    • Here is a link to the file to save to your computer.
    • Finally, here is an earthquake report for an earthquake also north of today’s M 7.4 earthquake.

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

    Return to the Earthquake Reports page.

    Posted in alaska, asia, earthquake, education, Extension, geology, pacific, plate tectonics, strike-slip, subduction, Transform, tsunami

    Earthquake Report: New Caledonia / Loyalty Islands

    We are still all learning so much about the earthquake in Alaska and as I was winding down for the night (the last class tomorrow before the final), I noticed an email from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. There was a sequence of earthquakes along the subduction zone near New Caledonia and the Loyalty Islands.

    This part of the plate boundary is quite active and I have a number of earthquake reports from the past few years (see below, a list of earthquake reports for this region).

    Today’s sequence is cool for at least one reason. First of all, it is possible that few people might be injured. Hopefully that plays out.

    But the cool thing from a plate tectonics perspective is that there was a series of different types of earthquakes. At first view, it appears that there was a mainshock with a magnitude of M = 7.5. There was a preceding M 6.0 earthquake which may have been a foreshock.

    The M 7.5 earthquake was an extensional earthquake. This may be due to either extension from slab pull or due to extension from bending of the plate. More on this later.

    Following the M 7.5, there was an M 6.6 earthquake, however, this was a thrust or reverse (compressional) earthquake. The M 6.6 may have been in the upper plate or along the subduction zone megathrust fault, but we won’t know until the earthquake locations are better determined.

    Both of these earthquakes have a default 10 km depth, so we will need to find out more about these depths later.

    A similar sequence happened in October/November 2017. I prepared two reports for this sequence here and here. Albeit, in 2017, the thrust earthquake was first (2017.10.31 vs. 2017.11.19).

    Interestingly, there was also an earthquake in August 2018. Here is the report for this earthquake. which was a thrust earthquake very close to today’s sequence.

    Finally, another cool thing is that the recent M 7.0 in Alaska was also an extensional earthquake along a subduction zone. The Alaska quake was quite deeper and is still being investigated. Today’s M 7.5 / M 6.6 sequence is probably a little more well understood because there have been many analogues in this region.

    There have been some observations of tsunami. Below is from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.


    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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 7.0 in one version.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

      Magnetic Anomalies

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
    • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.
    • We can see the roughly east-west trends of these red and blue stripes. These lines are parallel to the ocean spreading ridges from where they were formed.

      I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the upper left corner is a pair of maps from Schellart et al., 2002. The left map shows the bathymetry (depth of ocean) and the right panel shows the plate boundaries, as well as details about the spreading ridges in the basins to the east of the New Hebrides trench.
    • In the lower left corner I include a figure from Richards et al. (2011) that shows the major plate boundary faults in the region. They also plot seismicity with color representing depth. This allows us to visualize the subduction zone fault as it dips (eastward for the New Hebrides and westwards for the Tonga subduction zones). The cross section in the panel on the right is designated by the black dashed line. I also place this line as a dashed green line in the interpretive poster below. I place a yellow star in the general location of the M 6.8 earthquake.
    • In the upper right corner I include the map and seismicity cross section from Benz et al. (2011). These maps plot the seismicity and this reveals the nature of the downgoing subducting slab. Shallower earthquakes are generally more related to the subduction zone fault or deformation within either plate (interplate and intraplate earthquakes). While the deeper earthquakes are not megathrust fault related, but solely due to internal crustal deformation (intraplate earthquakes). I highlight the location of the cross section with a blue line labeled G-G’ (and place this cross section in the general location on the main interpretive map.
    • In the lower right corner is a map and plot showing seismicity and fault mechanisms for historic earthquakes (Craig et al., 2014).
    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the educational poster from August 2018 with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    Other Report Pages

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is a map from the USGS report (Benz et al., 2011). Read more about this map on the USGS website. Earthquakes are plotted with color related to depth and circle diameter related to magnitude. Today’s M 6.8 earthquake occurred south of cross section G-G’.

    • This is the legend.

    • Here is a cross section showing the seismicity along swatch profile G-G’.

    • Craig et al. (2014) evaluated the historic record of seismicity for subduction zones globally. In particular, the evaluated the relations between upper and lower plate stresses and earthquake types (cogent for the southern New Hebrides trench). Below is a figure from their paper for this part of the world. I include their figure caption below in blockquote.

    • Outer-rise seismicity along the New Hebrides arc. (a) Seismicity and focal mechanisms. Seismicity at the southern end of the arc is dominated by two major outer-rise normal faulting events, and MW 7.6 on 1995 May 16 and an MW 7.1 on 2004 January 3. Earthquakes are included from Chapple & Forsyth (1979); Chinn & Isacks (1983); Liu & McNally (1993). (b) Time versus latitude plot.

    • Here is a summary figure from Craig et al. (2014) that shows different stress configurations possibly existing along subduction zones.

    • Schematic diagram for the factors influencing the depth of the transition from horizontal extension to horizontal compression beneath the outer rise. Slab pull, the interaction of the descending slab with the 660 km discontinuity (or increasing drag from the surround mantle), and variations in the interface stress influence both the bending moment and the in-plane stress. Increases in the angle of slab dip increases the dominance of the bending moment relative to the in-plane stress, and hence moves the depth of transition towards the middle of the mechanical plate from either an shallower or a deeper position. A decrease in slab dip enhances the influence of the in-plane stress, and hence moves the transition further from the middle of the mechanical plate, either deeper for an extensional in-plane stress, or shallower for a compressional in-plane stress. Increased plate age of the incoming plate leads to increases in the magnitude of ridge push and intraplate thermal contraction, increasing the in-plane compressional stress in the plate prior to bending. Dynamic topography of the oceanic plate seawards of the trench can result in either in-plane extension or compression prior to the application of the bending stresses.

    • Here is a great figure from here, the New Caledonian Seismologic Network. This shows how geologists have recorded uplift rates along dip (“perpendicular” to the subduction zone fault). On the left is a map and on the right is a vertical profile showing how these rates of uplift change east-west. This is the upwards flexure related to the outer rise, which causes extension in the upper part of the downgoing/subducting plate.

    • The subduction of the Australian plate under the Vanuatu arc is also accompanied by vertical movements of the lithosphere. Thus, the altitudes recorded by GPS at the level of the Quaternary reef formations that cover the Loyalty Islands (Ouvéa altitude: 46 m, Lifou: 104 m and Maré 138 m) indicate that the Loyalty Islands accompany a bulge of the Australian plate. just before his subduction. Coral reefs that have “recorded” the high historical levels of the sea serve as a reference marker for geologists who map areas in uprising or vertical depression (called uplift and subsidence). Thus, the various studies have shown that the Loyalty Islands, the Isle of Pines but alsothe south of Grande Terre (Yaté region) rise at speeds between 1.2 and 2.5 millimeters per decade.

    • Here are the figures from Richards et al. (2011) with their figure captions below in blockquote.
    • The main tectonic map

    • bathymetry, and major tectonic element map of the study area. The Tonga and Vanuatu subduction systems are shown together with the locations of earthquake epicenters discussed herein. Earthquakes between 0 and 70 km depth have been removed for clarity. Remaining earthquakes are color-coded according to depth. Earthquakes located at 500–650 km depth beneath the North Fiji Basin are also shown. Plate motions for Vanuatu are from the U.S. Geological Survey, and for Tonga from Beavan et al. (2002) (see text for details). Dashed line indicates location of cross section shown in Figure 3. NFB—North Fiji Basin; HFZ—Hunter Fracture Zone.

    • Here is the map showing the current configuration of the slabs in the region.

    • Map showing distribution of slab segments beneath the Tonga-Vanuatu region. West-dipping Pacifi c slab is shown in gray; northeast-dipping Australian slab is shown in red. Three detached segments of Australian slab lie below the North Fiji Basin (NFB). HFZ—Hunter Fracture Zone. Contour interval is 100 km. Detached segments of Australian plate form sub-horizontal sheets located at ~600 km depth. White dashed line shows outline of the subducted slab fragments when reconstructed from 660 km depth to the surface. When all subducted components are brought to the surface, the geometry closely approximates that of the North Fiji Basin.

    • This is the cross section showing the megathrust fault configuration based on seismic tomography and seismicity.

    • Previous interpretation of combined P-wave tomography and seismicity from van der Hilst (1995). Earthquake hypocenters are shown in blue. The previous interpretation of slab structure is contained within the black dashed lines. Solid red lines mark the surface of the Pacifi c slab (1), the still attached subducting Australian slab (2a), and the detached segment of the Australian plate (2b). UM—upper mantle;
      TZ—transition zone; LM—lower mantle.

    • Here is their time step interpretation of the slabs that resulted in the second figure above.

    • Simplifi ed plate tectonic reconstruction showing the progressive geometric evolution of the Vanuatu and Tonga subduction systems in plan view and in cross section. Initiation of the Vanuatu subduction system begins by 10 Ma. Initial detachment of the basal part of the Australian slab begins at ca. 5–4 Ma and then sinking and collision between the detached segment and the Pacifi c slab occur by 3–4 Ma. Initial opening of the Lau backarc also occurred at this time. Between 3 Ma and the present, both slabs have been sinking progressively to their current position. VT—Vitiaz trench; dER—d’Entrecasteaux Ridge.

    • Here is a figure that shows the coulomb stress changes due to the 2011 earthquake. Basically, this shows which locations on the fault where we might expect higher likelihoods of future earthquake slip. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Maps of the Coulomb stress change predicted for the joint P wave, Rayleigh wave and continuous GPS inversion in Fig. 2. The margins of the latter fault model are indicated by the box. Two weeks of aftershock locations from the U.S. Geological Survey are superimposed, with symbol sizes scaled relative to seismic magnitude. (a) The Coulomb stress change averaged over depths of 10–15 km for normal faults with the same westward dipping fault plane geometry as the Mw 7.7 outer rise aftershock, for which the global centroid moment tensor mechanism is shown. (b) Similar stress changes for thrust faults with the same geometry as the mainshock, along with the Mw 7.9 thrusting aftershock to the south, for which the global centroid moment tensor is shown.

    • Here is a figure schematically showing how subduction zone earthquakes may increase coulomb stress along the outer rise. The outer rise is a region of the downgoing/subducting plate that is flexing upwards. There are commonly normal faults, sometimes reactivating fracture zone/strike-slip faults, caused by extension along the upper oceanic lithosphere. We call these bending moment normal faults. There was a M 7.1 earthquake on 2013.10.25 that appears to be along one of these faults. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Schematic cross-sections of the A) Sanriku-oki, B) Kuril and C) Miyagi-oki subduction zones where great interplate thrust events have been followed by great trench slope or outer rise extensional events (in the first two cases) and concern about that happening in the case of the 2011 event.

    • Here is an animation that shows the seismicity for this region from 1960 – 2016 for earthquakes with magnitudes greater than or equal to 7.0.
    • I include some figures mentioned in my report from 2016.04.28 for a sequence of earthquakes in the same region as today’s earthquake (albeit shallower hypocentral depths), in addition to a plot from Cleveland et al. (2014). In the upper right corner, Cleveland et al. (2014) on the left plot a map showing earthquake epicenters for the time period listed below the plot on the right. On the right is a plot of earthquakes (diameter = magnitude) of earthquakes with latitude on the vertical axis and time on the horizontal axis. Cleveland et al (2014) discuss these short periods of seismicity that span a certain range of fault length along the New Hebrides Trench in this area. Above is a screen shot image and below is the video.

    • Here is a link to the embedded video below (6 MB mp4)
      Here are the two figures from Cleveland et al. (2014).

    • Figure 1. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • (left) Seismicity of the northern Vanuatu subduction zone, displaying all USGS-NEIC earthquake hypocenters since 1973. The Australian plate subducts beneath the Pacific in nearly trench-orthogonal convergence along the Vanuatu subduction zone. The largest events are displayed with dotted outlines of the magnitude-scaled circle. Convergence rates are calculated using the MORVEL model for Australia Plate relative to Pacific Plate [DeMets et al., 2010]. (right) All GCMT moment tensor solutions and centroids for Mw ≥ 5 since 1976, scaled with moment. This region experiences abundant moderate and large earthquakes but lacks any events with Mw >8 since at least 1900.

    • Figure 17. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • One hundred day aftershock distributions of all earthquakes listed in the ISC catalog for the 1966 sequence and in the USGS-NEIC catalog for the 1980, 1997, 2009, and 2013 sequences in northern Vanuatu. The 1966 main shocks are plotted at locations listed by Tajima et al. [1990]. Events of the 1997 and 2009 sequences were relocated using the double difference method [Waldhauser and Ellsworth, 2000] for P wave first arrivals based on EDR picks. The event symbol areas are scaled relative to the earthquake magnitudes based on a method developed by Utsu and Seki [1954]. Hypocenters of most aftershock events occurred at <50 km depth.

    • Figure 17. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • (right) Space-time plot of shallow (≤ 70 km) seismicity M ≥ 5.0 in northern Vanuatu recorded in the NEIC catalog as a function of distance south of 10°N, 165.25°E. (left) The location of the seismicity on a map rotated to orient the trench vertically.

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

      References:

    • Hayes, G., 2018, Slab2 – A Comprehensive Subduction Zone Geometry Model: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7PV6JNV.
    • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model. doi:10.7289/V5H70CVX
    • Benz, H.M., Herman, M., Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Furlong, K.P., Villaseñor, A., Dart, R.L., and Rhea, S., 2011. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 New Guinea and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-H, scale 1:8,000,000.
    • Bird, P., 2003. An updated digital model of plate boundaries in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 4, doi:10.1029/2001GC000252, 52 p.
    • Craig, T.J., Copley, A., and Jackson, J., 2014. A reassessment of outer-rise seismicity and its implications for the mechanics of oceanic lithosphere in Geophysical Journal International, v. 197, p/ 63-89.
    • Geist, E.L., and Parsons, T., 2005, Triggering of tsunamigenic aftershocks from large strike-slip earthquakes: Analysis of the November 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 6, doi:10.1029/2005GC000935, 18 p. [Download PDF (6.5 MB)]
    • 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, T., and Kanamori, H., 1980, Earthquake doublets in the Solomon Islands: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, v. 21, p. 283-304.
    • Lay, T., Ammon, C.J., Kanamori, H., Kim, M.J., and Xue, L., 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.
    • Richards, S., Holm, R., Barber, G., 2011. When slabs collide: A tectonic assessment of deep earthquakes in the Tonga-Vanuatu region in Geology, v. 39, no. 8., p. 787-790
    • Schellart, W.P., Lister, G.S., and Jessell, M.W., 2002. Analogue modeling of arc and backarc deformation in the New Hebrides arc and North Fiji Basin in Geology, v. 30, no. 4, p. 311-314
    • Schwartz, S.Y., 1999, Noncharacteristic behavior and complex recurrence of large subduction zone earthquakes: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 104, p. 23,111-123,125.
    • Schwartz, S.Y., Lay, T., and Ruff, L.J., 1989, Source process of the great 1971 Solomon Islands doublet: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, v. 56, p. 294-310.
    • Return to the Earthquake Reports page.

      Posted in earthquake, education

    Earthquake Report: Alaska

    What a day. I started by waking up about 5:43 AM (about, heheh), which was 17 minutes before my alarm was set. I had a job interview at 8:30.

    I went to the interview for a position working on tsunami geology. During the interview, everyone started getting phone calls and emails, there was an earthquake in Alaska. The main interviewer had to leave the interview to take a few calls. Pretty funny, before they left, they asked me what would I do. Perfect timing.

    We all broke out our phones and started reviewing the early reports and hypothesizing. I thought this may be related to the earthquake in 2016, though that was much deeper.

    Much has been written about this earthquake and I include tweets to summaries below in the social media section.

    Today’s earthquake occurred along the convergent plate boundary in southern Alaska. This subduction zone fault is famous for the 1964 March 27 M = 9.2 megathrust earthquake. I describe this earthquake in more detail here.

    During the 1964 earthquake, the downgoing Pacific plate slipped past the North America plate, including slip on “splay faults” (like the Patton fault, no relation, heheh). There was deformation along the seafloor that caused a transoceanic tsunami.

    The Pacific plate has pre-existing zones of weakness related to fracture zones and spreading ridges where the plate formed and are offset. There was an earthquake in January 2016 that may have reactivated one of these fracture zones. This earthquake (M = 7.1) was very deep (~130 km), but still caused widespread damage.

    There was also an earthquake associated with the faults in the Pacific plate, which is still having asftershocks, earlier this year. Here is my earthquake report for the 2018.01.24 M 7.9 earthquake. I prepared two update reports here and here.

    Today’s earthquake was not on the megathrust fault interface and is extensional. I always have fun chatting with people new to subduction zones when we get to see an extensional earthquake at a convergent plate boundary. Because the earthquake was a normal earthquake (extensional) and it was rather deep, the possibility of a tsunami was quite small. However, there was a possibility that landslides could have triggered tsunami. However, these would be localized near the epicentral region.

    The earthquake appears to have a depth of ~40 km and the USGS model for the megathrust fault (slab 2.0) shows the megathrust to be shallower than this earthquake. There are generally 2 ways that may explain the extensional earthquake: slab tension (the downgoing plate is pulling down on the slab, causing extension) or “bending moment” extension (as the plate bends downward, the top of the plate stretches out.

    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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 3.0 in one version.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

      Magnetic Anomalies

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
    • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.
    • We can see the roughly east-west trends of these red and blue stripes. These lines are parallel to the ocean spreading ridges from where they were formed. The stripes disappear at the subduction zone because the oceanic crust with these anomalies is diving deep beneath the North America plate, so the magnetic anomalies from the overlying North America plate mask the evidence for the Pacific plate.

      I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the upper left corner is a map of the plate boundary faults from IRIS, which shows seismicity with color representing depth. I place a blue star in the general location of today’s earthquake (same for other inset figures).
    • Below this map is a low-angle oblique view of the subduction zone.
    • In the lower right corner is a map that shows the isochrons (line of equal age) for the oceanic crust of the Pacific plate (Naugler and Wageman, 1973). Compare these lines with the magnetic anomalies in the main poster.
    • In the upper right corner is the USGS liquefaction susceptibility map which is now a standard map product for USGS earthquake pages (for earthquakes of sufficient size). There has been photos of road damage that appear to be the result of liquefaction induced slope failures. I presented this map product in my reports for the 2018.09.28 Sulawesi, Indonesia earthquake and tsunami.
    • Another new product from the USGS is an aftershock forecast. GNS (New Zealand) has been doing this for a while (I first noticed these following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake). I prepared a table from their data that lists the potential number of earthquakes for different magnitudes for different time periods. These estimates are basically based on the empirical evidence that aftershock size and number decay with time.
    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    Other Report Pages

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is a map for the earthquakes of magnitude greater than or equal to M 7.0 between 1900 and 2016. This is the USGS query that I used to make this map. One may locate the USGS web pages for all the earthquakes on this map by following that link.

    • Here is a cross section showing the differences of vertical deformation between the coseismic (during the earthquake) and interseismic (between earthquakes).

    • Here is a figure recently published in the 5th International Conference of IGCP 588 by the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Dept. of Natural Resources, State of Alaska (State of Alaska, 2015). This is derived from a figure published originally by Plafker (1969). There is a cross section included that shows how the slip was distributed along upper plate faults (e.g. the Patton Bay and Middleton Island faults).

    • Here is an animation that shows earthquakes of magnitude > 6.5 for the period from 1900-2016. Above is a map showing the region and below is the animation. This is the URL for the USGS query that I used to make this animation in Google Earth.

    • Here is a link to the file for the embedded video below (5 MB mp4)

    Below is an educational video from the USGS that presents material about subduction zones and the 1964 earthquake and tsunami in particular.
    Youtube Source IRIS

    mp4 file for downloading.

      Credits:

    • Animation & graphics by Jenda Johnson, geologist
    • Directed by Robert F. Butler, University of Portland
    • U.S. Geological Survey consultants: Robert C. Witter, Alaska Science Center Peter J. Haeussler, Alaska Science Center
    • Narrated by Roger Groom, Mount Tabor Middle School

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

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    Posted in alaska, earthquake, Extension, geology

    Earthquake Report: Iran

    This morning (my time) there was a possibly shallow earthquake in western Iran with a magnitude of M = 6.3. This earthquake occurred in the aftershock zone of the 2017.11.12 M 7.3 earthquake. Here is my report for the M 7.3 earthquake. Here are the USGS webpagea for the M 6.3 and M 7.3 earthquakes.

    The M 7.3 earthquake was a reverse/thrust earthquake associated with tectonics of the Zagros fold and thrust belt. This plate boundary fault system is a section of the Alpide belt, a convergent plate boundary that extends from the west of the Straits of Gibraltar, through Europe (causing uplift of the Alps and subduction offshore of Greece), the Middle East, India (causing the uplift forming the Himalayas), then to end in eastern Indonesia (forming the continental collision zone between Australia and Indonesia).

    Some of the earthquakes (including this one) are strike-slip earthquakes (see explanation of different earthquake types below in the geologic fundamentals section). So, one might ask why there are strike-slip earthquakes associated with a compressional earthquake?

    As pointed out by Baptiste Gombert, these strike-slip earthquakes are are evidence of strain partitioning. Basically, when relative plate motion (the direction that plates are moving relative to each other) is not perpendicular or parallel to a tectonic fault, this oblique motion is partitioned into these perpendicular and parallel directions.

    A great example of this type of strain partitioning is the plate boundary offshore of Sumatra where the India-Australia plate subducts beneath the Sunda plate (part of Eurasia). The plate boundary is roughly N45W (oriented to the northwest with an azimuth of 325°) and the relative plate motion direction is oriented closer to a north-south orientation. The relative plate motion perpendicular to the plate boundary is accommodated by earthquakes on the subduction. These earthquakes are oriented showing compression in a northeast direction. Along the axis of Sumatra is a huge strike-slip fault called the Great Sumatra fault. This fault is parallel to the plate boundary and accommodates relative plate motion parallel to the plate boundary. The Great Sumatra fault is a fault called a forearc sliver fault.

    There are other examples of this elsewhere, like here in western Iran/eastern Iraq. Relative plate motion between the Arabia and Eurasia plates is oriented north-south, but the plate boundary is oriented northwest-southeast (just like the Sumatra example). So this oblique relative plate motion is partitioned into fault normal compression (the M 7.3 earthquake) and fault parallel shear (today’s M 6.3 earthquake).

    There is also a strike-slip fault in the region of today’s M 6.3, the Khanaqin fault. So, given what we know about the tectonics and historic seismicity, I interpret today’s M 6.3 earthquake to have been a strike-slip earthquake associated with the Khanaqin fault, triggered by changes in stress by the M 7.3 earthquake. I could be incorrect and this earthquake could be unrelated to the > 7.3 earthquake.

    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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 5.0 in one version.

    I include an inset map showing seismicity from 2016.11.22 through 2018.11.28 showing the aftershocks from the M 7.3 earthquake. Note the cluster of earthquakes to the south of the aftershock zone. This is a swarm with earthquakes in the lower to mid M 5 range. The earthquakes with mechanisms are compressional, oriented the same as the M 7.3.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

    • 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 some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the upper left corner is a map showing the regional plate boundary faults and some information about relative plate motions (Stern and Johnson, 2010). As for other inset figures, I plate a transparent cyan star in the general location of today’s M 6.3 earthquake.
    • In the lower left corner is a similarly scaled tectonic map from Scharf et al. (2015) showing more information about the amount of plate motion in the Tertiary (post 66 Ma). Note the contrast of the extension (in red) associated with the rifting in east Africa and the convergence (in blue) associated with the Alpide belt in this area.
    • In the upper right corner is a structural cross section showing the folding of the crust and rocks associated with the convergence at this plate boundary (Verges et al., 2011). I show the general location for this cross section on the map as a cyan line with balls on the ends.
    • In the lower left center is a map from Emami et al. (2010). This map shows how this convergent plate boundary creates topography (uplift and mountains) with color. Lower elevations are shown as yellow and green and higher elevations are shown as red and brown. Note the location of the Khanaqin fault, a left-lateral strike slip fault..
    • In the upper left center is a map showing a kinematic interpretation of the faulting in this area (Hessami, 2002). While the focus of this PhD dissertation is for the faulting in the southern Zagros system, they show relative plate motions and how the Khanaqin fault may accommodate this plate motion (oblique to Zagros).
    • In the lower right corner is a map showing USGS seismicity from 2016.11.22 through 2018.11.25 for earthquakes M ≥ 3.0. The spatial extent of this area is shown in a dashed white rectangle on the main map.
    • In the lower right center is the USGS seismic hazard map for the region (Jenkins et al., 2014).
    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted for earthquakes M ≥ 5.0.

    Other Report Pages

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • The Alpide Belt, shown in this map, is a convergent plate boundary that extends from Australia to Portugal. This map shows the westernmost extent of this system. The convergence here drives uplift of the Himalayas and the European Alps. Subduction along the Makran and Sunda subduction zones are also part of this system.

    • Below is the tectonic map from Stern and Johnson (2010).

    • Simpli”ed map of the Arabian Plate, with plate boundaries, approximate plate convergence vectors, and principal geologic features. Note location of Central Arabian Magnetic Anomaly (CAMA).

    • Here is the Scharf et al., 2015 map.

    • Tectonic setting of the Arabian Plate. Red and blue coloured symbols indicate divergence and convergence with overall amount and age, respectively. Green arrows show present-day GPS values with respect to fixed Europa from Iran [21] and white arrow from Oman [22]. a – [23]; b – [20]; c – [18]; d – [19]; e – [14]; f – [15]; g – [8]; h – [16]; i – [17]

    • This is the Enami et al., 2010 figure.

    • Tectonic map of the Zagros Fold Belt showing the position and geometry of the Mountain Front Flexure (MFF). Earthquakes of M ≥ 5 are indicated by small black diamonds. Focal mechanisms from Talebian & Jackson (2004) are also shown, in black (Mw ≥ 5.3) and grey (Mw ≥ 5.3). KH, Khavir anticline; SI, Siah Kuh anticline; ZDF, Zagros Deformation Front.

    • This is the tectonic map from Hessami, 2002.

    • a) Earthquakes with mb > 5.0 (Jackson and McKenzie, 1984) along seismogenic basement thrusts offset by major strike-slip faults. b) Schematic interpretative map of the main structural features in the Zagros basement. The overall north-south motion of Arabia increases along the belt from NW to SE (arrows with numbers). Central Iran acted as a rigid backstop and caused the strike-slip faults with N-S trends in the west to bulge increasingly eastward. Fault blocks in the north (elongated NW-SE) rotate anticlockwise; while fault blocks in the south (elongated NE-SW) rotate clockwise. c) Simple model involving parallel paper sheets illustrating the observed strike-slip faults in the Zagros. Opening between the sheets (i.e. faults) helped salt diapirs to extrude.

    • Below are a series of figures from Verges et al., 2011. First is a map that shows the tectonics and locations of the cross section.

    • Tectonic map of the Zagros showing the location of the previously published cross-sections with the calculated amount of shortening and the extent of major hydrocarbon fields. The balanced cross-section is marked by the thick black line. M – Mand anticline. Dark grey: Naien-Baft ophiolites (Stöklin, 1968).

    • Here are the cross sections from Verges et al. (2011).

    • Structural cross-sections showing the style of folding across the studied regional transect (see location in Fig. 3). (a) The front of the Zagros Fold Belt along the Anaran anticline above the Mountain Front Flexure (MFF in Emami et al. 2010); (b) the Kabir Kuh anticline, which represents a multi-detachment fold (Vergés et al. 2010); (c) folds developed in the Upper Cretaceous basinal stratigraphy showing much tighter and upright anticlines (modified from Casciello et al. 2009).

    • Here is a map that displays an estimate of seismic hazard for the region (Jenkins et al., 2010). This comes from Giardini et al. (1999).

    • The Global Seismic Hazard Map. Peak ground acceleration (pga) with a 10% chance of exceedance in 50 years is depicted in m/s2. The site classification is rock everywhere except Canada and the United States, which assume rock/firm soil site classifications. White and green correspond to low seismicity hazard (0%-8%g), yellow and orange correspond to moderate seismic hazard (8%-24%g), pink and dark pink correspond to high seismicity hazard (24%-40%g), and red and brown correspond to very high seismic hazard (greater than 40%g).

    • Just found this as it as posted to the Bertrand tweet (see social media below). This is a figure from Talebian and Jackson (2004) that uses Sumatra as an analogue to the oblique convergence along the Zagros thrust. Pretty cool.

    • (a) Summary sketch of the tectonic pattern in the Zagros. Overall Arabia–Eurasia motions are shown by the big white arrows, as before. In the NW Zagros (Borujerd-Dezful), oblique shortening is partitioned into right-lateral strike-slip on the Main Recent Fault (MRF) and orthogonal shortening (large gray arrows). In the SE Zagros (Bandar Abbas) no strike-slip is necessary, as the shortening is parallel to the overall convergence. The central Zagros (Shiraz) is where the transition between these two regimes occurs, with anticlockwise rotating strike-slip faults allowing an along-strike extension (black arrows) between Bandar Abbas and Dezful. (b) A similar sketch for the Himalaya (after McCaffrey & N´abˇelek 1998). In this case the overall Tibet-India motion is likely to be slightly west of north. (The India-Eurasia motion is about 020◦, but Tibet moves east relative to both India and Eurasia: Wang et al. 2001). Thrust faulting slip vectors are radially outward around the entire arc (gray arrows). This leads to partitioning of the oblique convergence in the west, where right-lateral strike-slip is prominent on the Karakoram Fault, but no strike-slip in the east, where the convergence and shortening are parallel. The region in between extends parallel to the arc, on normal faults in southern Tibet. (c) A similar sketch for the Java–Sumatra arc, based on McCaffrey (1991). Slip partitioning occurs in the NW, with strike-slip faulting through Sumatra, but not in the SE, near Java. This change along the zone requires the Java–Sumatra forearc to extend along strike.

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

      References:

    • Allen, M.B., Saville, C., Blac, E.K-P., Talebian, M., and Nissen, E., 2013. Orogenic plateau growth: Expansion of the Turkish-Iranian Plateau across the Zagros fold-and-thrust belt in Tectonics, v. 32, p. 171-190, doi:10.1002/tect.20025
    • Emami, H., Verges, J., nalpas, T., Gillespie, P., Sharp, I., Karpuz, R., Blanc, E.P., and Goodarzi, G.H., 2010. Structure of the Mountain Front Flexure along the Anaran anticline in the Pusht-e Kuh Arc (NW Zagros, Iran): insights from sand box models in LETURMY, P. & ROBIN, C. (eds) Tectonic and Stratigraphic Evolution of Zagros and Makran during the Mesozoic–Cenozoic. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 330, 155–178.
    • Giardini, D., Grunthal, G., Shedlock, K., Zhang. P., and Global Seismic Hazards Program, 1999. Global seismic hazards map: Accessed on Jan. 9, 2007 at http://www.seismo.ethz.ch/GSHAP.
    • Hessami, K., 2002. Tectonic History and Present-Day Deformation in the Zagros Fold-Thrust Belt, PhD for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Mineralogy, Petrology, and Tectonics presented at Uppsala University in 2002, ISBN 91-554-5285-5
    • Jenkins, Jennifer, Turner, Bethan, Turner, Rebecca, Hayes, G.P., Sinclair, Alison, Davies, Sian, Parker, A.L., Dart, R.L., Tarr, A.C., Villaseñor, Antonio, and Benz, H.M., compilers, 2013, Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2010 Middle East and vicinity (ver 1.1, Jan. 28, 2014): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-K, scale 1:7,000,000, https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2010/1083/k/.
    • Scharf, A., Mattern, F., and Al Sadi, S., 2016. Kinematics of Post-obduction Deformation of the Tertiary Ridge at Al-Khod Village (Muscat Area, Oman) in SQU Journal for Science, v. 21, no. 1, p. 26-40
    • Stern, R.J. and Johnson, P., 2010. Continental lithosphere of the Arabian Plate: A geologic, petrologic, and geophysical synthesis in Earth-Science Reviews, v. 101, p. 29-67.
    • Talebian and Jackson, 2004. A reappraisal of earthquake focal mechanisms and active shortening in the Zagros mountains of Iran in GJI, v. 156, no. 3, P. 506–526, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-246X.2004.02092.x
    • Taymaz, T., Yilmaz, Y., and Dilek, Y., 2007. The geodynamics of the Aegean and Anatolia: introduction in Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 291; p. 1-16, doi:10.1144/SP291.1
    • Verges, J., Saura, E., Casciello, E., Fernandez, M., Villasenor, A., Jimenez-Munt, I., and Garcia-Castellanos, D., 2011. Crustal-scale cross-sections across the NW Zagros belt: implications for the Arabian margin reconstruction in Geol. Mag, v. 148, no. 5-6, p. 739-761, doi:10.1017/S0016756811000331
    • Woudloper, 2009. Tectonic map of southern Europe and the Middle East, showing tectonic structures of the western Alpide mountain belt.

    Return to the Earthquake Reports page.

    Posted in asia, College Redwoods, collision, earthquake, education, europe, geology, plate tectonics, strike-slip

    Earthquake Report: Mid Atlantic Ridge

    There was a M = 6.8 earthquake along a transform fault connecting segments of the Mid Atlantic Ridge recently.

    The Mid Atlantic Ridge is an extensional plate boundary called an oceanic spreading ridge. Oceanic crust is formed along these types of plate boundaries.

    Transform faults are faults that move side-by-side (i.e. strike-slip faults) that offset spreading ridges. Learn more about different types of faults in the geologic fundamentals section below.

    The Atlantic Ocean is known for the spreading center, Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR), which was probably born in the mid Cretaceous Period, about 130 million years ago. We use the age of the oceanic crust at the eastern and western margins of the Atlantic Ocean as a basis for this interpretation.

    The Mid Atlantic Ridge also splits apart the island of Iceland, which also overlies a volcanic hot spot. I have always wanted to visit Iceland to see the rocks get older as I might travel east or west from the middle of Iceland.

    North of Iceland, the MAR is offset by many small and several large transform faults. The largest transform fault north of Iceland is called the Jan Mayen fracture zone, which is the location for the 2018.11.08 M = 6.8 earthquake.

    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 include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 4.5 in one version.

    I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes. I also include the IPGP focal mechanism as that was available before the USGS moment tensor was available (I included it in my initial poster).

    • 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 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), 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.li>

      Magnetic Anomalies

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Mid Atlantic Ridge).
    • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.
    • We can see the roughly north-south trends of these red and blue stripes. These lines are parallel to the ocean spreading ridges from where they were formed.

      Age of Oceanic Lithosphere

    • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the age of the oceanic crust data from Agegrid V 3 (Müller et al., 2008).
    • Because oceanic crust is formed at oceanic spreading ridges, the age of oceanic crust is youngest at these spreading ridges. The youngest crust is red and older crust is yellow (see legend at the top of this poster).

      I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

    • In the upper right corner is a plate tectonic map from Le Breton (et al., 2012). This map shows the configuration of the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR) and shows their interpretation about how this spreading center is divided into segments separated by transform faults. I placed a red star in the general location of the M = 6.8 earthquake.
    • In the upper left corner is a map showing the isochrons (lines of each age for the crust) as summarized by Gaina et al. (2017). Isochrons are displayed with color relative to age.
    • In the lower right corner is a larger scale map zoomed into the Jan Mayen fracture zone at the MAR. I placed existing USGS fault mechanisms (blue = moment tensor, orange = focal mechanism) for earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 5.5.
    • In the lower left corner is a map from the Temblor.net app. This map shows the seismic hazard from the GEAR model (Bird et al., 2012). Seismicity is shown as colored circles. The red dot is the M = 6.8 epicenter, which lies in a region that is forecast to have an earthquake of magnitude M = 6.25-6.5 in someone’s lifetime.
    • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.

    • Here is the large scale map showing earthquake mechanisms for historic earthquakes in the region. Note how they mostly behave well (are almost perfectly aligned with the Jan Mayen fracture zone). There are a few exceptions, including an extensional earthquake possibly associated with extension on the MAR (2010.06.03 M = 5.6). Also, 2 earthquakes (2003.06.19 and 2005.07.25) are show oblique slip (not pure strike-slip as they have an amount of compressional motion) near the intersection of the fracture zone and the MAR.

    Other Report Pages

    Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is a map that shows the ace of the oceanic lithosphere for the entire Earth.

    • Here is the tectonic map from Le Breton et al. (2012). Depth to the seafloor is shown in color. Note the spreading rates in red. Note how the MAR is offset by the Jan Mayen fracture zone, as well as the smaller unnamed fracture zones.

    • Principal tectonic features of the NE Atlantic Ocean on a bathymetric and topographic map (ETOPO1). Compressional structures (folds and reverse faults) on the NE Atlantic Continental Margin are from Doré et al. [2008], Johnson et al. [2005], Hamann et al. [2005], Price et al. [1997] and Tuitt et al. [2010]. Present-day spreading rates along Reykjavik, Kolbeinsey and Mohns Ridges are from Mosar et al. [2002]. Continent-ocean boundaries of Europe and Greenland are from Gaina et al. [2009] and Olesen et al. [2007]. Black thick lines indicate seismic profiles of Figure 3. Abbreviations (north to south): GFZ, Greenland Fracture Zone; SFZ, Senja Fracture Zone; JMFZ, Jan Mayen Fracture Zone (west and east); JMMC, Jan Mayen Microcontinent; HHA, Helland Hansen Arch; OL, Ormen Lange Dome; FR, Fugløy Ridge; GIR, Greenland-Iceland Ridge; IFR: Iceland-Faeroe Ridge; MGR, Munkagrunnar Ridge; WTR, Wyville Thomson Ridge; YR, Ymir Ridge; NHBFC, North Hatton Bank Fold Complex; MHBFC, Mid-Hatton Bank Fold Complex; CGFZ, Charlie Gibbs Fracture Zone. Map
      projection is Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM, WGS 1984, zone 27N).

    • This is a fantastic figure that shows the isochrons on either side of the MAR in this region (Le Breton et al., 2012). Isochrons are lines of equal age, based on magnetic anomaly mapping and numerical ages from rock samples collected from the oceanic crust.The geomagnetic time scale is shown at the right. “Chrons” are numbered with their numerical ages in millions of years (Ma). These chron numbers are also on the map, showing the chron number for each isochron. For some reason I want to watch the film Tron right now.

    • Map of magnetic anomalies, NE Atlantic Ocean. Background image is recent model EMAG2 of crustal magnetic anomalies [Maus et al., 2009]. Ages of magnetic anomalies are from Cande and Kent [1995]. Map projection is Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM, WGS 1984, zone 27N).

    • This map shows their reconstruction of the fracture zones, MAR, and the Iceland Hot Spot for the Tertiary to present (Le Breton et al., 2012).

    • Positions relative to stationary Greenland plate of Europe, Jan Mayen Microcontinent (JMMC) and Iceland Mantle Plume at intervals of 10 Myr, according to stationary hot spot model of Lawver and Müller [1994] and moving hot spot model of Mihalffy et al. [2008]. Timing is (a) late Paleocene, 55.9 Ma; (b) late Eocene, 36.6 Ma ; (c) early Miocene, 19.6 Ma; and (d) present. (more info is in the original figure caption)

    • Here is the Gaina et al. (2017 a) isochron map for this region of the north Atlantic Ocean. Below are also some great summary figures that show a series of geophysical data from their work in the region (Gaina et al., 2017 b).

    • Magnetic anomaly and fracture zone identifications and interpreted isochrons.

    • On the left is a free air gravity map (Gaina et al., 2017 b). This is a gravity map after the “free-air” correction has been made (that corrects for the elevation that the gravity data were observed).
    • On the right is the isostatic gravity anomaly map. This is a gravity map that shows the results of correcting the gravity data for the variable density of materials in the earth’s crust and mantle.

    • (a) Free-air gravity (DTU10: Andersen 2010); (b) isostatic gravity anomaly (this was computed using the Airy–Heiskanen model, where the compensation is accomplished by variations in thickness of the constant density layers: the root is calculated using the ETOPO1 topography and bathymetry: Haase et al., this volume, in press);

    • On the left is the magnetic anomaly map (Gaina et al., 2017 b)
    • On the right is the sediment thickness map.

    • magnetic anomaly (Nasuti & Olesen 2014; Gaina et al., this volume, in review); and (d) sediment thickness (Funck et al. 2014). Distribution of volcanic edifices as in Figure 1. Dark grey lines indicate the active and extinct plate boundaries

    • This is a really cool map that shows how the MAR extends further into the Arctic Ocean. Color represents depth to the seafloor (Mjelde et al., 2008).

    • Location map of the North Atlantic and Arctic. ETOPO-2 shaded relief bathymetry and topography are based on data from Sandwell & Smith (1997). (more detail is found in the original figure caption)

    Geologic Fundamentals

    • 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 another way to look at these beach balls.
    • 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. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

    • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

    • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

    • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.

      Social Media

      References:

    • Bird, P., Jackson, D. D., Kagan, Y. Y., Kreemer, C., and Stein, R. S., 2015. GEAR1: A global earthquake activity rate model constructed from geodetic strain rates and smoothed seismicity, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., v. 105, no. 5, p. 2538–2554, DOI: 10.1785/0120150058
    • Gaina, C., Nasuti, A., Kimbell, G.S., and Blishchke, A., 2017 a. Break-up and seafloor spreading domains in the NE Atlantic in Peron-Pinvidic, G., Hopper, J. R., Stoker, M. S., Gaina, C., Doornenbal, J. C., Funck, T. & Arting, U. E. (eds) 2017. The NE Atlantic Region: A Reappraisal of Crustal Structure, Tectonostratigraphy and Magmatic Evolution. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 447, 393–417. https://doi.org/10.1144/SP447.12
    • Gaina, C., Blischke, A., Geissler, W.H., Kimbell, G.S., and Erlendsson, O., 2017 b. Seamounts and oceanic igneous features in the NE Atlantic: a link between plate motions and mantle dynamics in the NE Atlantic in Peron-Pinvidic, G., Hopper, J. R., Stoker, M. S., Gaina, C., Doornenbal, J. C., Funck, T. & Arting, U. E. (eds) 2017. The NE Atlantic Region: A Reappraisal of Crustal Structure, Tectonostratigraphy and Magmatic Evolution. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 447, 393–417. https://doi.org/10.1144/SP447.12
    • Le Breton, E., P. R. Cobbold, O. Dauteuil, and G. Lewis (2012), Variations in amount and direction of seafloor spreading along the northeast Atlantic Ocean and resulting deformation of the continental margin of northwest Europe, Tectonics, 31, TC5006, doi:10.1029/2011TC003087.
    • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model. doi:10.7289/V5H70CVX
    • Müller, R.D., Sdrolias, M., Gaina, C. and Roest, W.R., 2008, Age spreading rates and spreading asymmetry of the world’s ocean crust in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 9, Q04006, doi:10.1029/2007GC001743

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