Earthquake Report: Ecuador!

We just had a large earthquake along the coast of Ecuador. Here is the USGS website for the M 7.8 earthquake.

Below is my Earthquake Report Poster. I plot the USGS moment tensor for this earthquake, along with the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale contours, and the subduction zone slab contours (Hayes et al., 2012).The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here.

There is a legend that shows how moment tensors can be interpreted. Moment tensors are graphical solutions of seismic data that show two possible fault plane solutions. One must use local tectonics, along with other data, to be able to interpret which of the two possible solutions is correct. The legend shows how these two solutions are oriented for each example (Normal/Extensional, Thrust/Compressional, and Strike-Slip/Shear). There is more about moment tensors and focal mechanisms at the USGS.

The red-orange-yellow lines are slab contour lines from Hayes et al. (2012). These lines are a best estimate for the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are based largely upon seismicity and there is currently an effort to update these contours to integrate other data types. The hypocentral depth for this earthquake is consistent with being along the subduction zone interface.

    I include a number of inset figures and maps.

  • In the upper left corner I include a clipping of the map and cross section from the USGS Open File Report for the historic seismicity of this region (Rhea et al., 2010).
  • In the upper right corner, I include a map that shows the regional tectonics as published by Gutscher et al. (1999). I also include a 3-D low angle oblique view of the structure of the donwgoing Nazca plate (Gutscher et al., 1999). These authors pose that the Carnegie Ridge exerts a control for the segmentation of the subduction zone.
  • In the lower right corner, I include a preliminary shakemap. More about shakemaps can be found here.


This looks like it will be a damaging earthquake to people and their belongings. Below is the Rapid Assessment of an Earthquake’s Impact (PAGER) report. More on the PAGER program can be found here. An explanation of a PAGER report can be found here. PAGER reports are modeled estimates of damage. On the left is a histogram showing estimated casualties and on the right is an estimate of possible economic losses.


Here is an explanation of the PAGER report.


Below is the tectonic setting map from Gutscher et al. (1999). I include their figure caption as a blockquote.


Tectonic setting of the study area showing major faults, relative plate motions according to GPS data [7] and the NUVEL-1 global kinematic model [8], magnetic anomalies [13] and active volcanoes [50]. Here and in Fig. 4, the locations of the 1906 (Mw D 8:8, very large open circle) and from south to north, the 1953, 1901, 1942, 1958 and 1979 (M  7:8, large open circles) earthquakes are shown. GG D Gulf of Guayaquil; DGM D Dolores–Guayaquil Megashear.

Below is a low angle oblique view of the structures in the downgoing Nazca plate, from Gutscher et al. (1999). I include their figure caption as a blockquote.


3-D view of the two-tear model for the Carnegie Ridge collision featuring: a steep ESE-dipping slab beneath central Colombia; a steep NE-dipping slab from 1ºS to 2ºS; the Peru flat slab segment south of 2ºS; a northern tear along the prolongation of the Malpelo fossil spreading center; a southern tear along the Grijalva FZ; a proposed Carnegie flat slab segment (C.F.S.) supported by the prolongation of Carnegie Ridge.

    Today’s earthquake is near two historic earthquakes with similar magnitudes. Below I plot a map showing the seismicity from 1900-2016 for earthquakes with magnitudes greater than or equal to M 6.0. Here is the USGS query that I used to make this map.

  • 1906.01.31 M 8.3 occurred ~100 km to the northeast.
  • 1942.05.14 M 7.8 occurred <50 km to the southwest.

    Here are the parts of the USGS Open File Report that are included above, as well as their legends.

  • Map

  • Map Legend

  • Cross Section

  • Cross Section Legend

  • The entire poster (55 MB pdf)

UPDATE 1

    Here are a couple maps from Chlieh et al. (2014). I include their figure captions below. Chlieh et al. (2014) use GPS data to infer the spatial variation and degree to which the subduction zone megathrust is seismogenically coupled. They consider plate motion rates and estimate the moment (earthquake energy) deficit along this fault (how much strain that plate convergence has imparted upon the fault over time). Then they compare this moment deficit to regions of the fault that have slipped historically.

  • Tectonics and GPS motion rates.

  • Seismotectonic setting of the oceanic Nazca plate, South America Craton (SoAm) and two slivers: the North Andean Sliver (NAS) and the Inca Sliver (IS). The relative Nazca/SoAm plate convergence rate in Ecuador is about 55mm/yr (Kendrick et al., 2003). Black arrows indicate the diverging forearc slivers motions relative to stable SoAm are computed from the pole solutions of Nocquet et al.(2014). The NAS indicates a northeastward long-term rigid motion of about 8.5 ±1mm/yr. The ellipse indicates the approximate rupture of the great 1906 Mw=8.8 Colombia–Ecuador megathrust earthquake. The Carnegie Ridge intersects the trench in central Ecuador and coincides with the southern limit of the great 1906 event. Plate limits (thick red lines) are from Bird(2003). DGFZ =Dolores–Guayaquil Fault Zone; GG =Gulf of Guayaquil; GR =Grijalva Ridge; AR =Alvarado Ridge; SR =Sarmiento Ridge. (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

  • GPS velocities along with historic earthquake patches.

  • Interseismic GPS velocity field in the North Andean Sliver reference frame. The relative Nazca/NAS convergence rate is 46 mm/yr. The highest GPS velocity of 26 mm/yr is found on La Plata Island that is the closest point to the trench axis. The GPS network adequately covers the rupture areas of the 1998 Mw=7.1, 1942 Mw=7.8and 1958 Mw=7.7 earthquakes but only 1/4th of the 1979 Mw=8.2 and 2/3rd of the great 1906 Mw=8.8 rupture area. The black star is the epicenter of the great 1906 event and white stars are the epicenters of the Mw>7.01942–1998 seismic sequence. Grey shaded ellipses are the high slip region of the 1942, 1958, 1979 and 1998 seismic sources (Beck and Ruff, 1984;Segovia, 2001; Swenson and Beck, 1996). Red dashed contours are the relocated aftershocks areas of the 1942, 1958 and 1979 events (Mendoza and Dewey, 1984). (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

  • Moment deficit along strike and historic earthquake locations. Today’s earthquake may have occurred in the region marked “gap” in these figures.

  • (A) Along-strike variations of the annual moment deficit for all the interseismic models shown in Fig.5. (B)Maximum ISC model and (C)Minimum ISC model. (A)The blue, green and red lines correspond to the along-strike variation of the annual moment deficit rate respectively for models with smoothing coefficient λ1 =1.0, 0.25 and 0.1. (B) Smoother solution of Fig.5 ith a maximum moment deficit rate of 4.5 ×1018N m/yr. (C)Rougher solution of Fig.5 with a minimum moment deficit rate of 2.5 ×1018N m/yr. Yellow stars are the epicenters of subduction earthquakes with magnitude Mw>6.0 from the last 400 yr catalogue (Beauval et al., 2013). (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

UPDATE 2

    Tsunami Observations:

  • Below are the current observations of tsunamis from this earthquake. Note the small maximum tsunami height. This is good for those in Ecuador.

Category(s): Uncategorized

One Response in another blog/article

  1. […] is an update to my preliminary report about the M 7.8 subduction zone earthquake in Ecuador. Here is my first report. More information about this earthquake is on that report page. Here is the USGS website for the M […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *