Earthquake Report: Chile!

Last night we had a large earthquake in the southern region of the 1960 M 9.5 Valdivia earthquake. Below are some USGS websites for the three large earthquakes for this region that I mention in my interpretive poster. Based on the hypocentral depth of ~35 km and the slab contours from Hayes et al. (2012), this appears to be a subduction zone interface earthquake. The epicenter plots between the 20 and 40 km slab contours.

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

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner, I include a time-space diagram from Moernaut et al. (2010).
  • To the right of that space time figure is a plot showing the tsunami recorded at a tide gage 30-40 km to the south of the epicenter. This comes from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission here. Here is the NWS National Tsunami Warning Center tsunami announcement.
  • In the upper right corner I include an inset map from the USGS Seismicity History poster for this region (Rhea et al., 2010). There is one seismicity cross section with its locations plotted on the map. The USGS plot these hypocenters along this cross section and I include that below (with the legend).
  • In the lower left corner are the MMI intensity maps for the three earthquakes listed above: 1960 M 9.5, 2010 M 8.8, and 2016 M 7.6. Note these are at different map scales.


  • This map shows the MMI contours for the 1960 and 2010 earthquakes in addition to this 2016 earthquake. This helps us visualize the spatial extent for these earthquakes with a large range of magnitudes. Recall that an M 9.5 earthquake releases about 32 times the energy that an M 8.5 earthquake releases. Note how the 1960 and 2010 earthquakes span a region between the Juan Fernandez fracture zone and where the Chile Rise intersects the trench, where the 4 fracture zones (Guamblin, Darwin, Taitao, and Tres Montes) intersect the trench.


  • Here is the USGS fault slip model. Note the short rupture length of this earthquake, proportional to the magnitude.

  • Below are some figures from Moreno et al. (2011) that show estimates of locking along the plate interface in this region. I include the figure captions as blockquote.
  • The first figure shows how the region of today’s earthquake is in an area of higher locking.

  • a) Optimal distribution of locking rate in the plate interface. Predicted interseismic velocities and GPS vectors corrected by the postseismic signals are shown by green and blue arrows, respectively. b) Tradeoff curve for a broad range of the smoothing parameter (β). The optimal value for β is 0.0095 located at the inflection of the curve.

  • This second figure shows the moment released during historic earthquakes and the moment accumulated due to seismogenic locking along the megathrust.

  • a) Latitudinal distribution of the coseismic moment (Mc) released by the 1960 Valdivia (Moreno et al., 2009) (red line) and 2010 Maule (Tong et al., 2010) (blue line) earthquakes, and of accumulated deficit of moment (Md) due to interseismic locking of the plate interface 50 (orange line) and 300 (gray line) years after the 1960 earthquake, respectively. The range of errors of the Md rate is depicted by dashed lines. High rate of Md was found in the earthquake rupture boundary, where slip deficit accumulated since 1835 seems to be not completely released by the 2010 Maule earthquake. b) Schematic map showing the deformation processes that control the observed deformation in the southern Andes and the similarity between coseismic and locking patches. Blue and red contours denote the coseismic slip for the 2010 Maule (Tong et al., 2010) and 1960 Valdivia (Moreno et al., 2009) earthquakes, respectively. Patches with locking degree over 0.75 are shown by brown shaded areas. The 1960 earthquake (red star) nucleated in the segment boundary, area that appears to be highly locked at present. The 2011 Mw 7.1 aftershock (gray) may indicate that stress has been transmitted to the southern limit of the Arauco peninsula.

  • Here is the space-time diagram from Moernaut et al., 2010. I include their figure caption below in blockquote.

  • Fig.: Setting and historical earthquakes in South-Central Chile. Data derived from Barrientos (2007); Campos et al. (2002); Melnick et al.(2009)

  • Here is the cross section of the subduction zone just to the south of this Sept/Nov 2015 swarm (Melnick et al., 2006). Below I include the text from the Melnick et al. (2006) figure caption as block text.

  • (A) Seismotectonic segments, rupture zones of historical subduction earthquakes, and main tectonic features of the south-central Andean convergent margin. Earthquakes were compiled from Lomnitz (1970, 2004), Kelleher (1972), Comte et al. (1986), Cifuentes (1989), Beck et al. (1998 ), and Campos et al. (2002). Nazca plate and trench are from Bangs and Cande (1997) and Tebbens and Cande (1997). Maximum extension of glaciers is from Rabassa and Clapperton (1990). F.Z.—fracture zone. (B) Regional morphotectonic units, Quaternary faults, and location of the study area. Trench and slope have been interpreted from multibeam bathymetry and seismic-reflection profiles (Reichert et al., 2002). (C) Profile of the offshore Chile margin at ~37°S, indicated by thick stippled line on the map and based on seismic-reflection profiles SO161-24 and ENAP-017. Integrated Seismological experiment in the Southern Andes (ISSA) local network seismicity (Bohm et al., 2002) is shown by dots; focal mechanism is from Bruhn (2003). Updip limit of seismogenic coupling zone from heat-fl ow measurements (Grevemeyer et al., 2003). Basal accretion of trench sediments from sandbox models (Lohrmann, 2002; Glodny et al., 2005). Convergence parameters from Somoza (1998 ).

  • In September through November of 2015, there was a M 8.3 earthquake further to the north. Below is my interpretive poster for that earthquake and here is my report, where I discuss the relations between the 2010, 2015, and other historic earthquakes in this region. Here is my report from September.

  • Here is a space time diagram from Beck et al. (1998 ). The 2015 earthquake occurs in the region of the 1943 and 1880 earthquakes. I updated this figure to show the latitudinal extent of the 2010 and 2015 earthquakes.

References:

Category(s): earthquake, education, geology, pacific, plate tectonics, subduction, tsunami

3 Responses in other blogs/articles

  1. […] 2016.12.25 M 7.6 Chile […]

  2. […] al. (2011). Note the gap in seismicity in the region of the 1960 M 9.5 earthquake, except for the 2016 M 7.6 earthquake. Also, note how the 1960 and 2010 earthquake slip patches […]

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