Earthquake Report: Papua New Guinea

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 USGS prepared a fault slip model that shows this earthquake may have ruptured a north vergent (south dipping) thrust fault.
There was a M 6.5 earthquake north of today’s M 7.5 earthquake in November 2017. These earthquakes are along different fault systems and likely are too distant to be related.
On 2018.02.26 I prepared an updated report here.

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 ≥ 6.5 in one version.
I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange) for the M 7.5 earthquake, in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes. There was a M 6.6 earthquake to the southeast along the PFTB in 2000 and I include the moment tensor for this earthquake.

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

  • In the lower right corner is a great figure showing the generalized plate tectonic boundaries in this region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean (Holm et al., 2016). I place a blue star in the general location of the M 6.5 earthquake (also plotted in other inset figures). This map shows the major plate boundary faults. Active subduction zones have shaded triangle fault symbols, while inactive subduction zones have un-shaded triangle fault line symbols.
  • In the lower left corner is a map showing the fault systems in the region (Cloos et al., 2005). The legend allows us to distinguish between active and inactive fault systems.
  • In the upper right corner is a figure from Baldwin et al. (2012). This figure shows a series of cross sections along this convergent plate boundary from the Solomon Islands in the east to Papua New Guinea in the west. Cross section ‘D’ is the most representative for the earthquakes today. I present the map and this figure again below, with their original captions.
  • In the upper left corner is cross section D-D’ that shows the PFTB. I placed the blue star along a north vergent fault that may be associated with today’s M 7.5. The faults are actually quite complex, so this schematic illustration may not be a perfect represetation of the fautls here.
  • In the center left is a plot showing the larger aftershocks (large enough to show up in USGS database, a global catalog). The rupture length of the fault that ruptured today may be ~160 km. Considering empirical relations developed by Wells and Coppersmith (1994), a 160 km fault length would generate a M 7.6-7.7 earthquake (close to M 7.5, given the empirical relations and the uncertainty with those relations).


  • The same map without historic seismicity.

  • Here is the interpretive poster from last November (this is the report).

  • Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

    • Here is the Holm et al. (2016) figure.

    • Topography, bathymetry and regional tectonic setting of New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Arrows indicate rate and direction of plate motion of the Australian and Pacific plates (MORVEL, DeMets et al., 2010); Mamberamo thrust belt, Indonesia (MTB); North Fiji Basin (NFB)

    • Koulali et al (2015) use GPS data to resolve the kinematics of the central-eastern Papua New Guinea region. The first figure below is a map that shows the GPS velocities in this region There are two cross section profiles labled on the map (the M 7.5 earthquake happened to the east of A-A’). Note the complicated and detaile dfault mapping (the balck lines). The convergence is generally perpendicular to the PFTB in the east and more oblique to the PFTB on the western portion of this map.

    • The GPS velocity field and 95 per cent confidence interval ellipses with respect to the Australian Plate. Red and blue vectors are the new calculated field and black vectors are from Wallace et al. (2004). The dashed rectangle shows the area of Fig. 3. The blue dashed lines correspond to the location of profiles shown in Fig. 4. Note that the velocity scales for the red and blue vectors are different (see the lower right corner for scales). The black velocities are plotted at the same scale as the red vectors.

    • Here are the two profiles. The red and blue lines plot vertical land motion (VLM) rates in mm/yr and show strain accumulates across the region. Today’s earthquake happened in the region labeled ‘Highland FTB.’ The plot shows that ~5 mm/yr of strain accumulates in this fault system.

    • Profiles A–A& and B–B& from Fig. 2 showing model fit to GPS observations. Red symbols and lines are the GPS observed and modelled velocities, respectively, for the profile-normal component. Blue symbols and lines correspond to the profile-parallel component. The green and pink lines corresponds to the model using the Ramu-Markham fault geometry from Wallace et al. (2004), south of Lae. Grey profiles show the projected topography. The seismicity is from the ISC catalogue for events > Mw 3.5 (1960–2011).

    • Here is a comparison of the proposed fault length shown on the poster with fault scaling relations from Wells and Coppersmith (1994). The upper panel is figure 9 and the lower panel is figure 17. I include figure captions for these figures below. Presuming a fault length of 160 km, the magnitude would be between 7.5 and 8.

    • Figure 9. (a) Regression of surface rupture length on magnitude (M). Regression line shown for all-slip-type relationship. Short dashed line indicates 95% confidence interval. (b) Regression lines for strike-slip, reverse, and normal-slip relationships. See Table 2 for regression coefficients. Length of regression lines shows the range of data for each relationship.

      Figure 17. Regression lines for stable continental region (SCR) earthquakes and non-SCR continental earthquakes. (a) Regression of surface rupture length on magnitude (M). (b) Regression of rupture area on magnitude (M).

    • Here is the USGS Pager Alert. More can be found about the PAGER alerts here.
    • PAGER provides shaking and loss estimates following significant earthquakes anywhere in the world. These estimates are generally available within 30 minutes and are updated as more information becomes available. Rapid estimates include the number of people and names of cities exposed to each shaking intensity level as well as the likely ranges of fatalities and economic losses. PAGER does not consider secondary effects such as landslides, liquefaction, and tsunami in loss estimates at this time.
    • This shows that there is a 42% chance that there will be between 100 and 1,000 casualties. We can only hope that there are fewer (which is possible).

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

    • This map shows plate velocities and euler poles for different blocks. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote. The PFTB is shown as a kelly-green band of color.

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

    • This figure incorporates cross sections and map views of various parts of the regional tectonics (Baldwin et al., 2012). These deep earthquakes are nearest the cross section D (though are much deeper than these shallow cross sections). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

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

    • UPDATE (23:00 pacific time): This is one of the ground motion visualizations from IRIS. The red and blue colors represent the upward or downward motion recorded on seismometers. Note the background motions along the coast of WA, OR, and CA have high amplitudes (darker red and darker blue). This is probably due to the storm that is hitting the region (the wind blows trees, buildings, etc. and the waves pound the earth, both of which are recorded on seismometers). This is the first time that I noticed this phenomena on one of these visualizations. There are probably many other examples.
    • Another cool thing is that about half way through the animation, the seismic waves that were traveling west from the earthquake, travel around the globe, and then are seen here, traveling from teh east coast to the west coast. This is common to most all of these visualizations.

    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).

    • 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:

    Social Media

      References:

    • Baldwin, S.L., Monteleone, B.D., Webb, L.E., Fitzgerald, P.G., Grove, M., and Hill, E.J., 2004. Pliocene eclogite exhumation at plate tectonic rates in eastern Papua New Guinea in Nature, v. 431, p/ 263-267, doi:10.1038/nature02846.
    • Baldwin, S.L., Fitzgerald, P.G., and Webb, L.E., 2012. Tectonics of the New Guinea Region, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., v. 40, pp. 495-520.
    • Cloos, M., Sapiie, B., Quarles van Ufford, A., Weiland, R.J., Warren, P.Q., and McMahon, T.P., 2005, Collisional delamination in New Guinea: The geotectonics of subducting slab breakoff: Geological Society of America Special Paper 400, 51 p., doi: 10.1130/2005.2400.
    • Hamilton, W.B., 1979. Tectonics of the Indonesian Region, USGS Professional Paper 1078.
    • 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.
    • Holm, R. and Richards, S.W., 2013. A re-evaluation of arc-continent collision and along-arc variation in the Bismarck Sea region, Papua New Guinea in Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 60, p. 605-619.
    • Holm, R.J., Richards, S.W., Rosenbaum, G., and Spandler, C., 2015. Disparate Tectonic Settings for Mineralisation in an Active Arc, Eastern Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in proceedings from PACRIM 2015 Congress, Hong Kong ,18-21 March, 2015, pp. 7.
    • Holm, R.J., Rosenbaum, G., Richards, S.W., 2016. Post 8 Ma reconstruction of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands: Microplate tectonics in a convergent plate boundary setting in Eartth Science Reviews, v. 156, p. 66-81.
    • Johnson, R.W., 1976, Late Cainozoic volcanism and plate tectonics at the southern margin of the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea, in Johnson, R.W., ed., 1976, Volcanism in Australia: Amsterdam, Elsevier, p. 101-116
    • Koulali, A., tregoning, P., McClusky, S., Stanaway, R., Wallace, L., and Lister, G., 2015. New Insights into the present-day kinematics of the central and western Papua New Guinea from GPS in GJI, v. 202, p. 993-1004, doi: 10.1093/gji/ggv200
    • Sapiie, B., and Cloos, M., 2004. Strike-slip faulting in the core of the Central Range of west New Guinea: Ertsberg Mining District, Indonesia in GSA Bulletin, v. 116; no. 3/4; p. 277–293
    • Tregoning, P., McQueen, H., Lambeck, K., Jackson, R. Little, T., Saunders, S., and Rosa, R., 2000. Present-day crustal motion in Papua New Guinea, Earth Planets and Space, v. 52, pp. 727-730.
    • Wells, D., l., and Coppersmith, K.J., 1994. New Empirical Relationships among Magnitude, Rupture Length, Rupture Width, Rupture Area, and Surface Displacement in BSSA, vol. 84, no. 4, pp. 974-1002

    Earthquake Report: Bengkulu (Sumatra)!

    Last night (my time) while I was tending to other business, there was an earthquake along the Sunda Megathrust. Here is the USGS website for this M 6.4 earthquake.
    This M 6.4 earthquake happened down-dip (“deeper than”) along the megathrust from the 2007.09.12 M 8.4 megathrust earthquake. Here is the USGS website for the M 8.4 earthquake. This M 6.4 earthquake occurred in a region of low seismogenic coupling (as inferred by Chlieh at al., 2008), albeit with sparse GPS data in this region. Chlieh et al. (2008) used coral geodetic and paleogeodetic data, along with Global Positioning System (GPS) observations, to constrain their model. Because there are no forearc islands in this part of the subduction zone, there are no GPS nor coral data with which to constrain their model (so it may underestimate the coupling %, i.e. coupling ratio).
    Based upon the USGS fault plane slip model, this M 6.4 earthquake actually happened in a region of higher slip from the M 8.4 earthquake. We may consider this M 6.4 earthquake to be an aftershock of the M 8.4 earthquake.
    Here is a report from earthquake-report.com.

    Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake

    I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include USGS epicenters from 1917-2017 for magnitudes M ≥ 7.
    I also include the USGS moment tensor for today’s earthquake, as well as for the 2007 M 8.4 earthquake. I label the other epicenters with large magnitudes (2004, 2005, and 2012). Find more details about these earthquakes in my reports listed at the bottom of this page, above the references.

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

      I include some inset figures in the poster.

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


    • I prepared this figure to show the difference in MMI Intensity for these two closely spaced earthquakes. The data here come from the USGS websites listed above.

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

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

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

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

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

    • This is a figure from Philobosian et al. (2012) that shows a larger scale view for the slip patches in this region.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

    References:

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

    Earthquake Report: Sulawesi, Indonesia

    There was a series of earthquakes in Sulawesi, Indonesia earlier today, with a mainshock having a magnitude of M 6.8. This series of earthquakes is interesting as it does not occur on the main plate boundary fault, but on upper plate faults in the region. There is a major left-lateral strike-slip fault system to the west of these earthquakes (the Palu-Koro fault).
    Part of this being interesting is that the orientation of the earthquake is oblique to some estimates of the orientation of extension in this region. The M 6.8 earthquake shows an extensional earthquake with extension oriented ~north-south. Some estimate extension in the upper plate to be northeast-southwest (Bellier et al., 2006), while others estimate extension in the upper plate to be oriented parallel to the M 6.8 earthquake (e.g. Walpersdorf et al., 1998). Spencer (2010) also documented normal faults in the upper plate that may also be correctly oriented for this M 6.8 earthquake. However, looking at the SRTM topographic data using the GeoMapApp, there is a structural grain that appears oriented to the extension estimated by Bellier et al., 2006.

    • Here are the USGS earthquake websites for this sequence.
    • 2017.05.29 14:35 M 6.8
    • 2017.05.29 14:53 M 4.7
    • 2017.05.29 15:04 M 5.1
    • 2017.05.29 15:18 M 5.1

    Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

    I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include seismicity from 1917-2017 for earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 7.5. Here is the USGS derived Google Earth kml file I used to create this map. I show the fault plane solutions for one of these earthquakes (1996 M 7.9). The 1996 M 7.9 earthquake is oriented with the subduction fault on the north side of Sulawesi. Interestingly, there is no seismicity M ≥ 7.5 along the strike-slip systems here.

    • 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 did not 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 include some inset figures in the poster.

    • In the lower left corner is a general tectonic map for this part of the world (Zahirovic et al., 2014). I placed a green star in the location of this M 6.8 earthquake.
    • In the lower right corner is a low-angle oblique view of the plate boundaries in the northern part of this region (Hall, 2011). The upper part of the diagram shows the opposing vergent subduction zones along that strike north-south along the Molucca Strait (Halmahera, Philippines). The lower panel shows the downgoing Australia plate along the Timor Trench and Seram Trench.. I placed a green star in the location of this M 6.8 earthquake.
    • In the upper right corner I include an inset of a seismic hazard map for this region of Indonesia. This map is from the Indonesian National Agency for Disaster Management (2011). Note the high seismic hazard associated with the Palu-Koro and Matano faults.
    • In the upper right corner I include a tectonic map showing the major fault systems and generalized plate motions (Bellier et al., 2006). Note the northeast-southwest orientation of extension in the Central Sulawesi block. I present another figure from this publication below.
    • To the right of this Bellier et al. (2006) map is another figure from that same publication. This is more generalized and shows the orientation of the faults in this region.



    • Here is the tectonic map from Bellier et al., 2006. I include their caption below in blockquote.


    • Regional geodynamic sketch that presents the present day deformation model of Sulawesi area (after Beaudouin et al., 2003) and four main deformation systems around the Central Sulawesi block, highlighting the tectonic complexity of Sulawesi. Approximate location of the Central Sulawesi block rotation pole (P) [compatible with both GPS measurements (Walpersdorf et al., 1998a) and earthquake moment tensor analyses (Beaudouin et al., 2003)], as well as the major active structures are reported. Central Sulawesi Fault System (CSFS) is formed by the Palu–Koro and Matano faults. Arrows correspond to the compression and/or extension directions deduced from both inversion and moment tensor analyses of the focal mechanisms; arrow size being proportional to the deformation rate (e.g., Beaudouin et al., 2003).We also represent the focal mechanism provided by the Harvard CMT database [CMT data base, 2005] for the recent large earthquake (Mw=6.2; 2005/1/23; lat.=0.928S; long.=120.108E). The box indicates the approximate location of the Fig. 6 that corresponds to the geological map of the Palu basin region. The bottom inset shows the SE Asia and Sulawesi geodynamic frame where arrows represent the approximate Indo-Australian and Philippines plate motions relative to Eurasia.

    • Here is the larger scale map showing the fault configuration in this region (Bellier et al., 2006)


    • Sketch map of the Cenozoic Central Sulawesi fault system. ML represents the Matano Lake, and Leboni RFZ, the Leboni releasing fault zone that connects the Palu–Koro and Matano Faults. Triangles indicate faults with reverse component (triangles on the upthrown block). On this map are reported the fault kinematic measurement sites (geographic coordinates in Table 3).

    • The extension shown in the Bellier et al. (2006) map above is largely the result of analyses conducted by and presented in Beaudouin et al. (2003). Here I present their figure where they summarize their results of block modeling using historic seismicity to drive the strain in this region. It is possible that the century of seismicity data is insufficient to account for the strain here. This may explain why the orientation of the M 6.8 earthquake is not oriented like suggested in this map below.





    • Here is a figure from Walpersdorf et al. (1998) that shows regional plate motions and the tectonic faults in the region. Note that the extension is oriented parallel to the M 6.8 extension. These data are based upon their analyses of GPS geodetic data. So, given the orientation of the M 6.8 earthquake and these data, I suspect this is the correct orientation of extension. Though, this is not consistent with the topographic data I present below.


    • Distribution of the calk alkalic potassic (CAK) volcanism in Sulawesi. In the west arm this volcanism is restricted to the central part of the arm, while east of the Palu–Koro fault zone CAK volcanism is distributed across a NW–SE 200 km wide belt extending from north Sulawesi to the Una-Una Island. The two synthetic cross sections illustrate the contrasting distribution of this volcanism on both sides of the Palu–Koro fault zone. Extension of the Sula-Buton=north Sulawesi arc is speculative. The double arrow illustrates extension in the Gulf of Gorontalo. Dashed lines in cross sections indicate the presence at depth of the remnant subducted Tethys oceanic crust.

    • 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.

    • Here is a map from Spencer (2010). Today’s M 6.8 occurred along the cross section A-A.’


    • Elevation and shaded-relief maps and topographic cross sections derived from the SRTM DEM using GeoMapApp©. (A) Map of the Sulawesi and surrounding areas, with bathymetry derived from the Marine Geoscience Data System bathymetry database. Geologic features from Hamilton (1979) and Silver et al. (1983). (B) Map of central Sulawesi (location in A) showing inferred detachment faults (double ticks on hanging wall) and high-angle faults (red lines). (C) Map of the Tokorondo massif (location in B) showing inferred detachment fault and high-angle faults. (D) Topographic cross sections (location in C) of Tokorondo massif.

    • Here is a map from the GeoMapApp, using Global Multi-Resolution Topography (GMRT) topographic data (Ryan et al., 2009). Note the north-northwest structural grain. These appear to be normal faults oriented with a east-northeast/west-southwest extension from Bellier et al. (2006). This is the same general region as presented in the Spencer (2010) map above. Note the two large rounded plateau-highlands and the low lying basins (lakes are not outlined in this map).


    References:

    • Bellier, O., Se´brier, M., Seward, D., Beaudouin, T., Villeneuve, M., and Putranto, E., 2006. Fission track and fault kinematics analyses for new insight into the Late Cenozoic tectonic regime changes in West-Central Sulawesi (Indonesia) in Tectonophysics, v. 413, p. 201-220.
    • Benz, H.M., Herman, Matthew, Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Furlong, K.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 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.
    • Hall, R., 2011. Australia-SE Asia collision: plate tectonics and crustal flow in Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2011; v. 355; p. 75-109 doi: 10.1144/SP355.5
    • Hayes, G.P., Wald, D.J., and Johnson, R.L., 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries in, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524
    • Hayes, G.P., Smoczyk, G.M., Benz, H.M., Villaseñor, Antonio, and Furlong, K.P., 2015. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2013, Seismotectonics of South America (Nazca Plate Region): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1031–E, 1 sheet, scale 1:14,000,000, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151031E.
    • Ryan, W.B.F., S.M. Carbotte, J.O. Coplan, S. O’Hara, A. Melkonian, R. Arko, R.A. Weissel, V. Ferrini, A. Goodwillie, F. Nitsche, J. Bonczkowski, and R. Zemsky, 2009. Global Multi-Resolution Topography synthesis, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 10, Q03014, doi: 10.1029/2008GC002332
    • Walpersdorf, A., Rangin, C., and Vigny, C., 1998. GPS compared to long-term geologic motion of the north arm of Sulawesi in EPSL, v. 159, p. 47-55.
    • Zahirovic, S., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D., 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

    Earthquake Report: Banda Sea

    Earlier this week there was a moderate earthquake along a strike-slip fault that appears to adjoin the Banda/Timor/Java Arc with New Guinea. This strike-slip fault appears to cross oblique to the subduction zone that forms the Timor Trench to the south and the Seram Trench to the north. Various researchers portray the faulting in this region differently. Given earthquake moment tensor and focal mechanism from the USGS, this earthquake supports the interpretation that this fault system is left-lateral (synistral) strike-slip. A focal mechanism from an earthquake in 1938 (magnitude M 8.5) provides evidence that is a little more confusing. But, this region is a complicated region.
    UPDATE: 2017.03.05 (23:00 local time): Interesting, I was reading my tweet after Lila Lisle noticed a mistake. I fixed that, but later realized that the possible fault in the downgoing plate is not the Sorog fault, but a fault that might intersect with the Sorong fault. I did not delete the tweet since this mistake is a topic of conversation and not really a key part of the story.
    Here is the USGS earthquake website for this M 5.5 earthquake.

    Here are the USGS websites for the major earthquakes in this region from the past century.

    Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

    I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include seismicity from 1917-2017 for earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 7.0. I show the fault plane solutions for some of these earthquakes.

    • moment tensors for 2005, 2012, and 2017 (USGS)
    • focal mechanisms for 1987 (USGS) and 1938 (Okal and Reymond, 2003)
    • The fault plane solutions for the 1963, 1987, 2005, and 2012 earthquakes are all very similar to the 2017 M 5.5. However, these earthquakes are form two depth “populations.” The 1963 and 1987 earthquakes are at ~65 km depth, while the 2005, 2012, and 2017 are between 150-200 km. There are some earthquakes that are much shallower depth eastward along this possibly strike-slip fault. Near where this fault comes on land at the base of the Bird’s Head in New Guinea, there are some earthquakes from the past couple of decades that also have strike-slip fault–plane solutions. The earthquake depths along this Sorong fault (Hall, 2011) appear to show that the Sorong fault is active beneath the Sunda plate. The 1938 earthquake may be the result of some form of strain partitioned faulting(?). Alternatively, these earthquakes may be unrelated to the Sorong fault. There may be some internal structure in the Australia plate that is interacting with the subduction zones or other faults (some preexisting structure that is optimally oriented to reactivate with the .
    • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely
    • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
    • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault. The hypocentral depth plots this close to the location of the fault as mapped by Hayes et al. (2012).

      I include some inset figures in the poster.

    • In the upper left corner is a general tectonic map for this part of the world. I placed a green star in the location of this M 5.5 earthquake (Zahirovic et al., 2014).
    • In the upper right corner is a low-angle oblique view of the plate boundaries in the northern part of this region (Hall, 2011). The upper part of the diagram shows the opposing vergent subduction zones along that strike north-south along the Molucca Strait (Halmahera, Philippines). The lower panel shows the downgoing Australia plate along the Timor Trench and Seram Trench. Note the location of the Bird’s Head, the northwestern part of New Guinea. I have also labeled this region in the main map for comparison. The strike-slip fault at the northern boundary of New Guinea is the Sorong fault and this is labeled in this Hall (2011) figure.
    • Below the Hall (2011) figure is a figure from Baldwin et al. (2012) that shows the regional seismicity and faulting as they are related to different geologic types in New Guinea. I placed a green star in the location of this M 5.5 earthquake.
    • In the lower right corner is a part of the USGS Poster that reviews the seismicity of this region for the past century or so (Benz et a., 2011). The map shows seismicity with depth, along with some cross section locations. I place a green star at the location of this M 5.5 earthquake. I present three of the cross sections from this poster, A-A’, B-B’, and C-C.’ Of particular interest is the section B-B’ because this is placed near the M 5.5 earthquake. I have placed a green star that represents the hypocentral location on cross section B-B.’ The hypocentral depth suggests this M 5.5 earthquake is in the downgoing Australia plate slab.
    • In the lower left corner is a diagram showing the subducting Australia plate at the Java Trench (Yves Descatoire).
    • To the right of the Java Trench figure presents a detailed view of the faulting along the eastern Java and western Timor trenches (Hangesh and Whitney, 2016). They present evidence for oblique motion along the Timor trough. And present evidence for a backthrust on the northern side of Timor and the Indonesia islands east of Java.


    • Here is the map from Baldwin et al. (2012)

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

    • Here is the tectonic map from Hangesh and Whitney (2016)

    • Illustration of major tectonic elements in triple junction geometry: tectonic features labeled per Figure 1; seismicity from ISC-GEM catalog [Storchak et al., 2013]; faults in Savu basin from Rigg and Hall [2011] and Harris et al. [2009]. Purple line is edge of Australian continental basement and fore arc [Rigg and Hall, 2011]. Abbreviations: AR = Ashmore Reef; SR = Scott Reef; RS = Rowley Shoals; TCZ = Timor Collision Zone; ST = Savu thrust; SB = Savu Basin; TT = Timor thrust; WT =Wetar thrust; WASZ = Western Australia Shear Zone. Open arrows indicate relative direction of motion; solid arrows direction of vergence.

    • Here is the Audley (2011) cross section showing how the backthrust relates to the subduction zone beneath Timor. I include their figure caption in blockquote below.

    • Cartoon cross section of Timor today, (cf. Richardson & Blundell 1996, their BIRPS figs 3b, 4b & 7; and their fig. 6 gravity model 2 after Woodside et al. 1989; and Snyder et al. 1996 their fig. 6a). Dimensions of the filled 40 km deep present-day Timor Tectonic Collision Zone are based on BIRPS seismic, earthquake seismicity and gravity data all re-interpreted here from Richardson & Blundell (1996) and from Snyder et al. (1996). NB. The Bobonaro Melange, its broken formation and other facies are not indicated, but they are included with the Gondwana mega-sequence. Note defunct Banda Trench, now the Timor TCZ, filled with Australian continental crust and Asian nappes that occupy all space between Wetar Suture and the 2–3 km deep deformation front north of the axis of the Timor Trough. Note the much younger decollement D5 used exactly the same part of the Jurassic lithology of the Gondwana mega-sequence in the older D1 decollement that produced what appears to be much stronger deformation.

    • Here is a figure showing the regional geodetic motions (Bock et al., 2003). I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Topographic and tectonic map of the Indonesian archipelago and surrounding region. Labeled, shaded arrows show motion (NUVEL-1A model) of the first-named tectonic plate relative to the second. Solid arrows are velocity vectors derived from GPS surveys from 1991 through 2001, in ITRF2000. For clarity, only a few of the vectors for Sumatra are included. The detailed velocity field for Sumatra is shown in Figure 5. Velocity vector ellipses indicate 2-D 95% confidence levels based on the formal (white noise only) uncertainty estimates. NGT, New Guinea Trench; NST, North Sulawesi Trench; SF, Sumatran Fault; TAF, Tarera-Aiduna Fault. Bathymetry [Smith and Sandwell, 1997] in this and all subsequent figures contoured at 2 km intervals.

    References:

    • Audley-Charles, M.G., 1986. Rates of Neogene and Quaternary tectonic movements in the Southern Banda Arc based on micropalaeontology in: Journal of fhe Geological Society, London, Vol. 143, 1986, pp. 161-175.
    • Audley-Charles, M.G., 2011. Tectonic post-collision processes in Timor, 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, 241–266.
    • Baldwin, S.L., Fitzgerald, P.G., and Webb, L.E., 2012. Tectonics of the New Guinea Region in Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., v. 41, p. 485-520.
    • Benz, H.M., Herman, Matthew, Tarr, A.C., Hayes, G.P., Furlong, K.P., Villaseñor, Antonio, Dart, R.L., and Rhea, Susan, 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.
    • Hall, R., 2011. Australia-SE Asia collision: plate tectonics and crustal flow in Geological Society, London, Special Publications 2011; v. 355; p. 75-109 doi: 10.1144/SP355.5
    • Hangesh, J. and Whitney, B., 2014. Quaternary Reactivation of Australia’s Western Passive Margin: Inception of a New Plate Boundary? in: 5th International INQUA Meeting on Paleoseismology, Active Tectonics and Archeoseismology (PATA), 21-27 September 2014, Busan, Korea, 4 pp.
    • Hayes, G.P., Wald, D.J., and Johnson, R.L., 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries in, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524
    • Hayes, G.P., Smoczyk, G.M., Benz, H.M., Villaseñor, Antonio, and Furlong, K.P., 2015. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2013, Seismotectonics of South America (Nazca Plate Region): U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1031–E, 1 sheet, scale 1:14,000,000, http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151031E.
    • Okal, E. A., & Reymond, D., 2003. The mechanism of great Banda Sea earthquake of 1 February 1938: applying the method of preliminary determination of focal mechanism to a historical event in EPSL, v. 216, p. 1-15.
    • Zahirovic, S., Seton, M., and Müller, R.D., 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

    Earthquake Report: Java Sea!

    Last night as I was finishing work for the day, I noticed an earthquake in the Java Sea, just north of western Java. Here is the USGS website for this M 6.6 earthquake. This earthquake is extensional and plots very deep along the subduction zone beneath Java.
    In the map below I plot the epicenters of earthquakes from the past 30 days of magnitude greater than M = 2.5. The epicenters have colors representing depth in km. The USGS plate boundaries are plotted vs color. The USGS modeled estimate for ground shaking is plotted with contours of equal ground shaking using the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend in the lower left corner of the map. 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 subduction of the India-Australia plate, northwards beneath the Sunda plate, forms a subduction zone trench (labeled Sunda Trench in the map below). 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). So, the earthquake is either in the downgoing slab, or in the upper plate and a result of the seismogenic locked plate transferring the shear strain from a fracture zone in the downgoing plate to the upper plate.
    Today’s earthquake has an hypocentral depth of 415 km, while the slab depth estimate from Hayes et al. (2013) is greater than 620 km. This is a pretty good match. The moment tensor shows northeast-southwest extension, so this earthquake is possibly in the down going slab where there is either down-slab tension (the subducting plate is pulling the plate down, causing extension) or due to “bending moment normal faults” (if the plate is bending downwards, this causes extension in the top of the plate and compression in the lower part of the plate). Based upon these observations, I suspect this earthquake is in the downgoing Indo-Australia plate.

      I include some inset figures.

    • In the upper right corner are some figure insets from Jones et al. (2010). This is a report on the regional seismicity. The panel on the right is a map showing seismicity vs. depth (color of circle) and magnitude (diameter of circle). There are two cross sections (A-A’ and B-B’) that sample seismicity limited to the rectangular boxes shown on the map. The seismicity cross sections show the general location of the India-Australia slab as it subducts beneath the Sunda plate. On the left are legends for the map and the cross sections. I place a yellow circle for the general location of the epicenter of this M 6.6 earthquake.
    • Below Jones et al. (2010), I present two more cross sections of seismicity (Hengesh and Whitney, 2016). The lower right cross section is position in eastern Java.
    • In the lower left corner is a figure I prepared using SRTM (Space Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) bathymetric and topographic data (Smith and Sandwell, 1997). I plot USGS earthquake epicenters for earthquakes with magnitudes greater than, or equal to, M = 6.5, for the period from 1916 to present. Circle diameter represents earthquake magnitude. Plate motion rates are from Bock et al. (2003). Outline of the Bengal and Nicobar fans is from Stow (1990). Relative plate motion along the subduction zone is increasingly oblique, south to north. I place a red circle for the general location of the epicenter of this M 6.6 earthquake.
    • Above the seismicity map is a geodetic-tectonic fault map from Hengesh and Whitney (2016). Seismicity is plotted vs. magnitude (diameter of circle) and depth (color of circle). Relative plate motion and GPS geodetic plate motion rates are plotted as scaled and labeled vectors. I place a red circle for the general location of the epicenter of this M 6.6 earthquake.


    • Here is a figure showing the regional geodetic motions (Bock et al., 2003). I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Topographic and tectonic map of the Indonesian archipelago and surrounding region. Labeled, shaded arrows show motion (NUVEL-1A model) of the first-named tectonic plate relative to the second. Solid arrows are velocity vectors derived from GPS surveys from 1991 through 2001, in ITRF2000. For clarity, only a few of the vectors for Sumatra are included. The detailed velocity field for Sumatra is shown in Figure 5. Velocity vector ellipses indicate 2-D 95% confidence levels based on the formal (white noise only) uncertainty estimates. NGT, New Guinea Trench; NST, North Sulawesi Trench; SF, Sumatran Fault; TAF, Tarera-Aiduna Fault. Bathymetry [Smith and Sandwell, 1997] in this and all subsequent figures contoured at 2 km intervals.

    • In addition to the orientation of relative plate motion (that controls seismogenic zone and strain partitioning), the Indo Australia plate varies in crustal age (Lasitha et al., 2006). I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Tectonic sketch map of the Sumatra–Java trench-arc region in eastern Indian Ocean Benioff Zone configuration. Hatched line with numbers indicates depth to the top of the Benioff Zone (after Newcomb and McCann13). Magnetic anomaly identifications have been considered from Liu et al.14 and Krishna et al.15. Magnitude and direction of the plate motion is obtained from Sieh and Natawidjaja11. O indicates the location of the recent major earthquakes of 26 December 2004, i.e. the devastating tsunamigenic earthquake (Mw = 9.3) and the 28 March 2005 earthquake (Mw = 8.6).

    • Here is a figure showing the regional gravity anomalies, supporting the interpretations of Hengesh and Whitney, 2016. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Merged free-air and isostatic gravity anomalies and inferred Quaternary active faults along the western margin of Australia [Geoscience Australia, 2009]. Note the association of faults with areas of high gravity anomaly associated with former rift margin basins.

    • Here is a figure showing the tectonic interpretations of Hengesh and Whitney, 2016. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Illustration of major tectonic elements in triple junction geometry: tectonic features labeled per Figure 1; seismicity from ISC-GEM catalog [Storchak et al., 2013]; faults in Savu basin from Rigg and Hall [2011] and Harris et al. [2006]. Purple line is edge of Australian continental basement and fore arc [Rigg and Hall, 2011]. Abbreviations: AR = Ashmore Reef; SR = Scott Reef; RS = Rowley Shoals; TCZ = Timor Collision Zone; ST = Savu thrust; SB = Savu Basin; TT = Timor thrust; WT =Wetar thrust; WASZ = Western Australia Shear Zone. Open arrows indicate relative direction of motion; solid arrows direction of vergence.

      Recent Seismicity

      There have been several large magnitude earthquakes in this part of the Alpide belt in historic times, including some great earthquakes (

      • 2015.11.08 M 6.1 and M 6.4 Earthquakes

      • The interesting things about these two earthquakes is that they are not on the subduction zone fault interface. The M = 6.4 earthquake is shallow (USGS depth = 7.7 km). Note how the subduction zone is mapped to ~120-140 km depth near the M 6.4 earthquake. The Andaman Sea is a region of backarc spreading and forearc sliver faulting. Due to oblique convergence along the Sunda trench, the strain is partitioned between the subduction zone fault and the forearc sliver Sumatra fault. In the Andaman Sea, there is a series of en echelon strike-slip/spreading ridges. The M 6.4 earthquake appears to have slipped along one of these strike-slip faults. I interpret this earthquake to be a right lateral strike-slip earthquake, based upon the faults mapped in this region. The smaller earthquakes align in a west-southwest orientation. These may be earthquakes along the spreading center, or all of these earthquakes may be left lateral strike slip faults aligned with a spreading ridge. More analyses would need to be conducted to really know.
      • Here is a map showing moment tensors for the largest earthquakes since the 26 December 2004 Mw = 9.15 Megathrust Great Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone (SASZ) earthquake. Below is a map showing the earthquake slip contours. The beginning of this series started with the Mw 9.15 and Mw = 8.7 Nias earthquakes. There were some other earthquakes along the Mentawaii patch to the south (Mw = 8.5, 7.9, and 7.0). These were also subduction zone earthquakes, but failed to release the strain that had accumulated since the last large magnitude earthquakes to have slipped in this region in 1797 and 1833. In 2012 we had two strike slip earthquakes in the outer rise, where the India-Australia plate flexes in response to the subduction. At first I interpreted these to be earthquakes on northeast striking faults since those the orientation of the predominant faulting in the region. The I-A plate has many of these N-S striking fracture zones, most notably the Investigator fracture zone (the most easterly faults shown in this map as a pair of strike slip faults that head directly for the epicenter of yesterday’s earthquake). However, considering the aftershocks and a large number of different analyses, these two earthquakes (the two largest strike slip earthquakes EVER recorded!) were deemed to have ruptured northwest striking faults. We called these off fault earthquakes, since the main structural grain is those N-S striking fracture zones. Also of note is the focal depth of these two large earthquakes (Mw 8.2 & 8.6). These earthquakes ruptured well into the mantle. Before the 2004 SASZ earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake (which also probably ruptured into the mantle), we would not have expected earthquakes in the mantle.

        While we were at sea offshore Sumatra, there was a CBC (Canada) film maker aboard recording material for a film on Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes. This is a dity that he made for us.

      • link to the embedded video below. (45 mb mp4)
      • YT link to the embedded video below.
      • Here is a map showing the historic earthquake regions. Earthquake slip contours are shown for the 2004 and 2005 earthquakes. Some references for these earthquake sources include: Newcomb and McMann, 1987; Rivera et al., 2002; Abercrombie et al., 2003; Natawidjaja et al., 2006; Konca et al., 2008; Bothara, 2010; Kanamori et al., 2010; Philibosian et al., 2012.


        This map shows the magnitude of these historic earthquakes overlain upon a map showing the magnetic anomalies.

          References:

        • Abercrombie, R.E., Antolik, M., Ekstrom, G., 2003. The June 2000 Mw 7.9 earthquakes south of Sumatra: Deformation in the India–Australia Plate. Journal of Geophysical Research 108, 16.
        • Bothara, J., Beetham, R.D., Brunston, D., Stannard, M., Brown, R., Hyland, C., Lewis, W., Miller, S., Sanders, R., Sulistio, Y., 2010. General observations of effects of the 30th September 2009 Padang earthquake, Indonesia. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering 43, 143-173.
        • Chlieh, M., Avouac, J.-P., Hjorleifsdottir, V., Song, T.-R.A., Ji, C., Sieh, K., Sladen, A., Hebert, H., Prawirodirdjo, L., Bock, Y., Galetzka, J., 2007. Coseismic Slip and Afterslip of the Great (Mw 9.15) Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of 2004. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 97, S152-S173.
        • Harris, R. A. (2006), Rise and fall of the Eastern Great Indonesian arc recorded by the assembly, dispersion and accretion of the Banda Terrane,
          Timor, Gondwana Res., 10, 207–231.
        • 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.
        • Hengesh, J.V. and Whitney, B.B., 2016. Transcurrent reactivation of Australia’s western passive margin: An example of intraplate deformation from the central Indo-Australian plate in Tectonics, v. 35, doi:10.1002/2015TC004103.
        • Jones, E.S., Hayes, G.P., Bernardino, Melissa, Dannemann, F.K., Furlong, K.P., Benz, H.M., and Villaseñor, Antonio, 2014, Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2012 Java and vicinity: U.S. Geological SurveyOpen-File Report 2010–1083-N, 1 sheet, scale 1:5,000,000,http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20101083N.
        • Kanamori, H., Rivera, L., Lee, W.H.K., 2010. Historical seismograms for unravelling a mysterious earthquake: The 1907 Sumatra Earthquake. Geophysical Journal International 183, 358-374.
        • Konca, A.O., Avouac, J., Sladen, A., Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Fang, P., Li, Z., Galetzka, J., Genrich, J., Chlieh, M., Natawidjaja, D.H., Bock, Y., Fielding, E.J., Ji, C., Helmberger, D., 2008. Partial Rupture of a Locked Patch of the Sumatra Megathrust During the 2007 Earthquake Sequence. Nature 456, 631-635.
        • Lasitha, S., Radhakrishna, M., Sanu, T.D., 2006. Seismically active deformation in the Sumatra–Java trench-arc region: geodynamic implications in Current Science, v. 90, p. 690-696.
        • Natawidjaja, D.H., Sieh, K., Chlieh, M., Galetzka, J., Suwargadi, B., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Avouac, J., Ward, S.N., 2006. Source parameters of the great Sumatran megathrust earthquakes of 1797 and 1833 inferred from coral microatolls. Journal of Geophysical Research 111, 37.
        • Newcomb, K.R., McCann, W.R., 1987. Seismic History and Seismotectonics of the Sunda Arc. Journal of Geophysical Research 92, 421-439.
        • Philibosian, B., Sieh, K., Natawidjaja, D.H., Chiang, H., Shen, C., Suwargadi, B., Hill, E.M., Edwards, R.L., 2012. An ancient shallow slip event on the Mentawai segment of the Sunda megathrust, Sumatra. Journal of Geophysical Research 117, 12.
        • Rigg, J. W., and R. Hall (2011), Structural and stratigraphic evolution of the Savu Basin, Indonesia, Geol. Soc. London Spec. Publ., 355(1), 225–240.
        • Rivera, L., Sieh, K., Helmberger, D., Natawidjaja, D.H., 2002. A Comparative Study of the Sumatran Subduction-Zone Earthquakes of 1935 and 1984. BSSA 92, 1721-1736.
        • Sieh, K., Natawidjaja, D.H., Meltzner, A.J., Shen, C., Cheng, H., Li, K., Suwargadi, B.W., Galetzka, J., Philobosian, B., Edwards, R.L., 2008. Earthquake Supercycles Inferred from Sea-Level Changes Recorded in the Corals of West Sumatra. Science 322, 1674-1678.
        • Smith, W.H.F., Sandwell, D.T., 1997. Global seafloor topography from satellite altimetry and ship depth soundings: Science, v. 277, p. 1,957-1,962.
        • Storchak, D. A., D. Di Giacomo, I. Bondár, E. R. Engdahl, J. Harris, W. H. K. Lee, A. Villaseñor, and P. Bormann (2013), Public release of the ISC-GEM global instrumental earthquake catalogue (1900–2009), Seismol. Res. Lett., 84(5), 810–815, doi:10.1785/0220130034.
        • Stow, D.A.V., et al., 1990. Sediment facies and processes on the distal Bengal Fan, Leg 116, ODP Texas & M University College Station; UK distributors IPOD Committee NERC Swindon, p. 377-396.

    Earthquake Report: South Bismarck Sea

    There was a moderately deep earthquake in the South Bismarck Sea last night. Here is the USGS website for this earthquake. This earthquake has an exentional earthquake. Here, the Solomon Sea plate subducts northward beneath the South Bismarck plate to form the New Britain trench (a subduction zone). There is a tear in the downgoing Solomon Sea plate, with the South Solomon Trench formed where the Solomon Sea plate is subducting northeastwardly beneath the Pacific plate. The subduction zones have different strikes due to this.
    In the map below I plot the epicenters of earthquakes from the past 30 days of magnitude greater than M = 2.5. The epicenters have colors representing depth in km. The USGS plate boundaries are plotted vs color. The USGS modeled estimate for ground shaking is plotted with contours of equal ground shaking using the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend in the lower left corner of the map. 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 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). So, the earthquake is either in the downgoing slab, or in the upper plate and a result of the seismogenic locked plate transferring the shear strain from a fracture zone in the downgoing plate to the upper plate.
    Today’s earthquake has an hypocentral depth of ~445 km, while the slab depth estimate from Hayes et al. (2013) is 480 km. This is a pretty good match, so the earthquake is possibly above the slab interface. However, if the earthquake is below the slab, then we can explain the moment tensor as a northwest-southeast extensional earthquake possibly due to either bending in the upper part of the downgoing Solomon sea plate or due to tension within the slab. I suppose that, if this earthquake were above the slab, then perhaps the fault was bending up at this point, causing extension in the lower part of the over-riding South Bismarck plate. This seems unlikely, so the earthquake is probably in the Solomon Sea plate.

      I include some inset figures.

    • In the upper right corner is a generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. This map shows the major plate boundary faults including the New Britain trench (NBT), one of the main culprits for recent seismicity of this region.
    • In the lower right corner a figure from Oregon State University, which are based upon Hamilton (1979). “Tectonic microplates of the Melanesian region. Arrows show net plate motion relative to the Australian Plate.” This is from Johnson, 1976.


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

      • Here is the generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

      • Tectonic setting and mineral deposits of eastern Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The modern arc setting related to formation of the mineral deposits comprises, from west to east, the West Bismarck arc, the New Britain arc, the Tabar-Lihir-Tanga-Feni Chain and the Solomon arc, associated with north-dipping subduction/underthrusting at the Ramu-Markham fault zone, New Britain trench and San Cristobal trench respectively. Arrows denote plate motion direction of the Australian and Pacific plates. Filled triangles denote active subduction. Outlined triangles denote slow or extinct subduction. NBP: North Bismarck plate; SBP: South Bismarck plate; AT: Adelbert Terrane; FT: Finisterre Terrane; RMF: Ramu-Markham fault zone; NBT: New Britain trench.

      • Here is the slab interpretation for the New Britain region from Holm and Richards, 2013. Note the tear in the slab where the New Britain and South Solomon trenches intersect. This feeds into the tectonic domains discussed in my map above and also here. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

      • 3-D model of the Solomon slab comprising the subducted Solomon Sea plate, and associated crust of the Woodlark Basin and Australian plate subducted at the New Britain and San Cristobal trenches. Depth is in kilometres; the top surface of the slab is contoured at 20 km intervals from the Earth’s surface (black) to termination of slabrelated seismicity at approximately 550 km depth (light brown). Red line indicates the locations of the Ramu-Markham Fault (RMF)–New Britain trench (NBT)–San Cristobal trench (SCT); other major structures are removed for clarity; NB, New Britain; NI, New Ireland; SI, Solomon Islands; SS, Solomon Sea; TLTF, Tabar–Lihir–Tanga–Feni arc. See text for details.

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

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

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

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

    Earthquake Report: Sumatra!

    We just had a M = 7.8 earthquake southwest of the Island of Sumatra, a volcanic arc formed from the subduction of the India-Australia plate beneath the Sunda plate (part of Eurasia). Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.
    Here is my preliminary earthquake report poster. I will update this after class.
    I have presented materials related to the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone earthquake here and more here.
    I include a map in the upper right corner that shows the historic earthquake rupture areas.


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


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

    Earthquake Report: India!

    Today we had a good sized earthquake in eastern India, within the India-Burmese wedge (IBW). The IBW is a part of the convergent plate boundary between the India plate to the west and the Burma (part of Eurasia) plate to the east. This plate boundary has been evolving since India came into the scene about 60 Ma (Curray, 2005). Prior to that, this boundary is thought to have been primarily convergent. Once India came into the region, prior to colliding with Asia (about?), this margin began to accommodate right lateral (dextral) shear. There is a major strike-slip fault, the Saging fault (SF), to the east of the IBW (Wang et al., 2014). The SF accommodates most of this shear, but some continues to be accommodated in the IBW (Maurin and Rangin, 2009).
    Below is a map where I plot the epicenter for today’s M 6.7 earthquake, along with the moment tensor. I also include some inset maps. The lower left inset map is from Curray (2005) and shows the regional tectonics. The map on the right (Maurin and Rangin, 2009) shows the details of faulting in this region. In the upper right corner there is a cross section that is the east-west bold black line (at 22 degrees North) in the Maurin and Rangin (2009) map. This cross section is a little south of today’s earthquake, but is still relevant.
    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.
    Today’s M 6.7 earthquake (here is the USGS web page for this earthquake) possibly occurred along the Churachandpur-Mao fault (Wang et al., 2014). Based upon our knowledge of the regional tectonics I interpret this earthquake to have a right-lateral oblique sense of motion.


    Here is the figure caption for the Maurin and Rangin (2009) map and cross section in the above map.

    (a) General structural map of the Indo-Burmese ranges. The arrow shows the motion of the India Plate with respect to the Burma Plate [Socquet et al., 2006]. Figures 3, 5, 7, 8, and 13 are located with black boxes. The black dashed line is the trace of the buried incipient Chittagong Coastal Fault (C. C. Fault) discussed in this paper. The gray dashed line is the approximate position of the deformation front above the de´collement, in the western boundary of the outer wedge (see text for details). The gray area shows the position of the strong negative Bouguer gravity anomaly produced by the Sylhet Trough. (b) E-W synthetic cross section based on field observations and industrial multichannel seismic data discussed in this paper. The cross section is located as a thick black line in the map. Ages and thicknesses are based on unpublished well records and previously published sedimentological studies (see text for details). OIBW, outer Indo-Burmese Wedge; IIBW, inner Indo-Burmese Wedge.

    Here is the Curray (2005) plate tectonic map.


    Here is a map from Maurin and Rangin (2009) that shows the regional tectonics at a larger scale. They show how the Burma and Sunda plates are configured, along with the major plate boundary faults and tectonic features (ninetyeast ridge). The plate motion vectors for India vs Sunda (I/S) and India vs Burma (I/B) are shown in the middle of the map. Note the Sunda trench is a subduction zone, and the IBW is also a zone of convergence. There is still some debate about the sense of motion of the plate boundary between these two systems. This map shows it as strike slip, though there is evidence that this region slipped as a subduction zone (not strike-slip) during the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone earthquake. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.

    Structural fabric of the Bay of Bengal with its present kinematic setting. Shaded background is the gravity map from Sandwell and Smith [1997]. Fractures and magnetic anomalies in black color are from Desa et al.[2006]. Dashed black lines are inferred oceanic fracture zones which directions are deduced from Desa et al. in the Bay of Bengal and from the gravity map east of the 90E Ridge. We have flagged particularly the 90E and the 85E ridges (thick black lines). Gray arrow shows the Indo-Burmese Wedge (indicated as a white and blue hatched area) growth direction discussed in this paper. For kinematics, black arrows show the motion of the India Plate with respect to the Burma Plate and to the Sunda Plate (I/B and I/S, respectively). The Eurasia, Burma, and Sunda plates are represented in green, blue, and red, respectively.

    Here is a different cross section that shows how they interpret this plate boundary to have an oblique sense of motion (it is a subduction zone with some strike slip motion). Typically, these different senses of motion would be partitioned into different fault systems (read about forearc sliver faults, like the Sumatra fault. I mention this in my report about the earthquakes in the Andaman Sea from 2015.07.02). This cross section is further to the south than the one on the interpretation map above. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.

    Present cross section based on industrial multichannel seismics and field observations. The seismicity from USGS catalog and Engdahl [2002] is represented as black dots. Focal mechanisms from Global CMT (http://www.globalcmt.org/CMTsearch.html) catalog are also represented.

    This figure shows the interpretation from Maurin and Rangin (2009) about how the margin has evolved over the past 10 Ma.


    Wang et al. (2014) also have a very detailed map showing historic earthquakes along the major fault systems in this region. They also interpret the plate boundary into different sections, with different ratios of convergence:shear. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.

    Simplified neotectonic map of the Myanmar region. Black lines encompass the six neotectonic domains that we have defined. Green and Yellow dots show epicenters of the major twentieth century earthquakes (source: Engdahl and Villasenor [2002]). Green and yellow beach balls are focal mechanisms of significant modern earthquakes (source: GCMT database since 1976). Pink arrows show the relative plate motion between the Indian and Burma plates modified from several plate motion models [Kreemer et al., 2003a; Socquet et al., 2006; DeMets et al., 2010]. The major faults west of the eastern Himalayan syntax are adapted from Leloup et al. [1995] and Tapponnier et al. [2001]. Yellow triangle shows the uncertainty of Indian-Burma plate-motion direction.

    Here is a map from Wang et al. (2014) that shows even more details about the faulting in the IBW. Today’s fault occurred nearby the CMf label. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below. Wang et al. (2014) found evidence for active faulting in the form of shutter ridges and an offset alluvial fan. Shutter ridges are mountain ridges that get offset during a strike-slip earthquake and look like window shutters. This geologic evidence is consistent with the moment tensor from today’s earthquake. There is a cross section (C-C’) that is plotted at about 22 degrees North (we can compare this with the Maurin and Rangin (2009) cross section if we like).

    Figure 6. (a) Active faults and anticlines of the Dhaka domain superimposed on SRTM topography. Most of the active anticlines lie within 120 km of the deformation front. Red lines are structures that we interpret to be active. Black lines are structures that we consider to be inactive. CT = Comilla Tract. White boxes contain the dates and magnitudes of earthquakes mentioned in the text. CMf = Churachandpur-Mao fault; SM = St. Martin’s island antilcline; Da = Dakshin Nila anticline; M= Maheshkhali anticline; J = Jaldi anticline; P = Patiya anticline; Si = Sitakund anticline; SW= Sandwip anticline; L = Lalmai anticline; H = Habiganj anticline; R = Rashidpur anticline; F = Fenchunganj anticline; Ha = Hararganj anticline; Pa = Patharia anticline. (b) Profile from SRTM topography of Sandwip Island.

    Here is the Wang et al. (2014) cross section. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.

    Schematic cross sections through two domains of the northern Sunda megathrust show the geometry of the megathrust and hanging wall structures. Symbols as in Figure 18. (a) The megathrust along the Dhaka domain dips very shallowly and has secondary active thrust faults within 120 km of the deformation front. See Figures 2 and 6 for profile location.

    Early reports show that four people have been killed. AP report.
    Here is a cross section that shows seismicity for this region. The earthquakes are plotted as focal mechanisms. This comes from Jacha Polet, Professor of Geophysics at Cal Poly Pomona.


    Here is a map showing the seismicity and focal mechanisms, also from Jacha Polet.

    Earthquake Report: 2015 Summary M GT 7

    Here I summarize the global seismicity for 2015. I limit this summary to earthquakes with magnitude greater than or equal to M 7.0. I reported on all but one of these earthquakes.

      I include summaries of my earthquake reports in sorted into three categories. One may also search for earthquakes that may not have made it into these summary pages (use the search tool).

    • Magnitude
    • Region
    • Year

    Annual Summary Poster

    Here is the map where I show the epicenters as white circles. I also plot the USGS moment tensors for each earthquake, with arrows showing the sense of motion for each earthquake.
    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend in the lower left corner of the map. 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.
    In some cases, I am able to interpret the sense of motion for strike-slip earthquakes. In other cases, I do not know enough to be able to make this interpretation (so I plot both solutions).

  • 2015.07.18 Santa Cruz Islands


  • 2015.07.27 New Guinea

  • 2015.07.27 New Guinea update #1 updated interpretation
  • 2015.07.27 New Guinea update #2 animations and seismic records

  • Compilation Map from here

  • 2015.09.16 Illapel, Chile

  • 2015.09.16 Illapel, Chile update #1 new maps and tsunami data
  • 2015.09.16 Illapel, Chile update #2 tsunami observations
  • 2015.09.16 Illapel, Chile update #3 more tsunami observations
  • 2015.09.16 Illapel, Chile update #4 historic tsunami comparisons
  • 2015.09.16 Illapel, Chile update #5
    • First Map

    • Second Map

    • Third Map (made in November 2015 following a M 6.8 earthquake). Here is the first report and the second report for that M 6.8 earthquake.

    • Regional Historic Earthquake Comparison Map #1

    • Large Scale Historic Earthquake Comparison Map

    • Regional Historic Earthquake Comparison Map #2 (from here)

    • Historic Tsunami Comparisons
      • Here are the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research websites for the three tsunamis plotted in the map below, plus the one from 2015.09.16 not shown on the map below.

      • 1960.05.22 M 9.5 (There is no page for the 1960 earthquake, so this map is located on the 2010 page.)/li>
      • 2010.02.27 M 8.8
      • 2014.04.01 M 8.2
      • 2015.09.16 M 8.3

      Here is the map. These three maps use the same color scale. There is not yet a map with this scale for the 2015 tsunami, so we cannot yet make the comparison.


      Here is an animation of these three tsunami from the US NWS Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC). This is the YouTube link.

  • 2015.10.20 Vanuatu


  • 2015.10.26 Afghanistan

  • 2015.10.26 Afghanistan update #1
  • Global Map

  • Local Map

  • 2015.11.18 Solomon Islands


  • 2015.11.24 Peru

  • 2015.11.24 Peru update #1

    • Updated Map

  • 2015.11.24 Argentina/Brazil
  • 2015.12.04 Southeast Indian Ridge


  • 2015.12.07 Tajikistan


    • References:

    • See Earthquake Reports for the references in the maps from those individual earthquakes.

    Earthquake Report: Nicobar Isles and Sumatra!

    This past 24 hours include two large earthquakes in the region of the Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone offshore of Sumatra. Here is a map using the USGS online GIS interface.

      Here are the two large earthquakes posted on the USGS websites:

    • 2015.11.08 M 6.4
    • 2015.11.08 M 6.1

    Below is a map that I prepared with the seismicity from the past week, as well as the seismicity since 1900 with earthquakes of magnitude greater than M = 7.5. I plot the slab contours (these show the depth where we think that the subduction zone fault is located; Hayes et al., 2012). I plot the moment tensors (read more below about mt data) for these two earthquakes, along with the moment tensors from four significant earthquakes since ~2004. The 2004.12.26 and 2005.03.28 earthquakes are subduction zone earthquakes. The 2012.04.11 earthquakes are the largest strike slip earthquakes ever recorded on modern seismometers. While the tectonic fabric in the India plate is dominated by north-south fracture zones (see the blue line to the right of the label “Sunda trench”), these two M~8+ earthquakes ruptured east-west faults. The oceanic crust is very thick in the region of the Ninteyeast Ridge (thought to have thickened as the crust traveled over a hot spot).
    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend in the upper right corner of the map. 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 interesting things about these two earthquakes is that they are not on the subduction zone fault interface. The M = 6.4 earthquake is shallow (USGS depth = 7.7 km). Note how the subduction zone is mapped to ~120-140 km depth near the M 6.4 earthquake. The Andaman Sea is a region of backarc spreading and forearc sliver faulting. Due to oblique convergence along the Sunda trench, the strain is partitioned between the subduction zone fault and the forearc sliver Sumatra fault. In the Andaman Sea, there is a series of en echelon strike-slip/spreading ridges. The M 6.4 earthquake appears to have slipped along one of these strike-slip faults. I interpret this earthquake to be a right lateral strike-slip earthquake, based upon the faults mapped in this region. The smaller earthquakes align in a west-southwest orientation. These may be earthquakes along the spreading center, or all of these earthquakes may be left lateral strike slip faults aligned with a spreading ridge. More analyses would need to be conducted to really know.
    In May 2015, there was another Andaman Sea earthquake. Here is my report for that M 5.8 earthquake. Below is a map of the region. The M 5.8 did not have a moment tensor nor focal mechanism calculated, but I placed a generic strike-slip focal mechanism in an orientation that aligns with transform plate boundary that likely ruptured during this earthquake. The M 5.8 epicenter is depicted by a red and black star. I pose that this was a right-lateral strike slip earthquake along a transform plate boundary (shown in blue). Note that I have also added updated fault locations in this area, based upon seismicity (the USGS located plate boundaries are not quite correct; mine are imperfect too, but are consistent with the seismicity). The USGS fault lines have a stepped appearance and the ones that I drew look more smooth.
    I placed moment tensors for some of the largest earthquakes in this region. The 2009 and 2008 earthquakes in the northwest are extensional, so are probably in the downgoing India plate (extension from bending of the plate or slab pull). The 2010 and 2005 earthquakes in the southwest are strike-slip and may be due to the oblique subduction (strain partitioning).


    Here is a graphic that depicts how a sliver fault accommodates the strain partitioning from oblique subduction.


    The M = 6.1 earthquake is a deep earthquake, based upon its USGS hypocentral depth of 75 km. The slab depth in this region is about 70 km, so this is close to the megathrust. However, these slab contours are mostly based upon seismicity, so there is considerable uncertainty regarding the precise location of the fault (Hayes et al., 2012).
    Here is a map that I just put together that shows the historic earthquakes along the Suamtra-Andaman subduction zone. Compiled multiband single beam bathymetry and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) topography is in shaded relief and colored vs. depth (Smith and Sandwell, 1997, Graindorge et al., 2008; Ladage et al., 2006).The India-Australia plate subducts northeastward beneath the Sunda plate (part of Eurasia; sz–subduction zone). Orange vectors plot India plate movement relative to Sunda, and black vectors plot Australia relative to Sunda (global positioning system velocity based on Nuvel-1A; Bock et al., 2003; Subarya et al., 2006). Historic ruptures (Bilham, 2005; Malik et al., 2011) are plotted in grey, calendar years are in white. The 2004 and 2005 slip contours are shown orange and green, respectively (Chlieh et al., 2007, fig. 11 therein; Chlieh et al., 2008, figure 20 therein). Bengal and Nicobar fans cover structures of the India-Australia plate in the northern part of the map; are dashed black lines delimit their southern boundaries (Stow et al., 1990). The 2004 and 2005 earthquake focal mechanisms are plotted.

    This figure from Meltzner et al. (2010) shows measurements of vertical deformation collected from coral microatolls (which are sensitive to the tides, basically, they cannot survive above a certain level of tidal elevation. Read his and related papers to learn more about this method.). These are observations that are independent of GPS data. I include this figure because it shows the complicated tectonic setting. Note all the different strike-slip and extensional faulting north of Sumatra. These faults are from Curray (2005).


    Here is a map where I plot the USGS Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) contours for these two M 6.4 and 6.1 earthquakes. These are estimates of ground shaking based upon Ground Motion Prediction Equations, empirical relations between shaking intensity and distance to the earthquake.


    Here is one example of the MMI scale from the wiki site.

      These are the two “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI) maps for these two earthquakes. The DYFI maps are based on real observations, not models. Compare these maps with the above MMI Contour map.

    • M 6.4 strike-slip

    • M 6.1 normal

      Here are the attenuation plots comparing the DYFI and MMI model based estimates of ground shaking.

    • M 6.4 strike-slip

    • M 6.1 normal

    Here are the USGS web pages for the earthquakes I will discuss below:

    Here are a couple posts I put together regarding the initial instigator to this entire series of earthquakes (Mw = 9.15) and then the two largest strike slip earthquakes ever recorded (Mw = 82 and 8.6).

    Here is a map showing moment tensors for the largest earthquakes since the 26 December 2004 Mw = 9.15 Megathrust Great Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone (SASZ) earthquake. Below is a map showing the earthquake slip contours. The beginning of this series started with the Mw 9.15 and Mw = 8.7 Nias earthquakes. There were some other earthquakes along the Mentawaii patch to the south (Mw = 8.5, 7.9, and 7.0). These were also subduction zone earthquakes, but failed to release the strain that had accumulated since the last large magnitude earthquakes to have slipped in this region in 1797 and 1833. In 2012 we had two strike slip earthquakes in the outer rise, where the India-Australia plate flexes in response to the subduction. At first I interpreted these to be earthquakes on northeast striking faults since those the orientation of the predominant faulting in the region. The I-A plate has many of these N-S striking fracture zones, most notably the Investigator fracture zone (the most easterly faults shown in this map as a pair of strike slip faults that head directly for the epicenter of yesterday’s earthquake). However, considering the aftershocks and a large number of different analyses, these two earthquakes (the two largest strike slip earthquakes EVER recorded!) were deemed to have ruptured northwest striking faults. We called these off fault earthquakes, since the main structural grain is those N-S striking fracture zones. Also of note is the focal depth of these two large earthquakes (Mw 8.2 & 8.6). These earthquakes ruptured well into the mantle. Before the 2004 SASZ earthquake and the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake (which also probably ruptured into the mantle), we would not have expected earthquakes in the mantle.

      While we were at sea offshore Sumatra, there was a CBC (Canada) film maker aboard recording material for a film on Cascadia subduction zone earthquakes. This is a dity that he made for us.

    • link to the embedded video below. (45 mb mp4)
    • YT link to the embedded video below.
      • References:

      • Bilham, R., 2005. Partial and Complete Rupture of the Indo-Andaman Plate Boundary 1847 – 2004: Seismological Research Letters, v. 76, p. 299-311.
      • Bock, Y., Prawirodirdjo, L., Genrich, J.F., Stevens, C.W., McCaffrey, R., Subarya, C., Puntodewo, S.S.O., Calais, E., 2003. Crustal motion in Indonesia from Global Positioning System measurements: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 108, no. B8, 2367, doi: 10.1029/2001JB000324.
      • Curray, J. R., 2005. Tectonics and history of the Andaman Sea region, J. Asian Earth Sci., 25, 187–232, doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2004.09.001.
      • Chlieh, M., Avouac, J.-P., Hjorleifsdottir, V., Song, T.-R.A., Ji, C., Sieh, K., Sladen, A., Hebert, H., Prawirodirdjo, L., Bock, Y., Galetzka, J., 2007. Coseismic Slip and Afterslip of the Great (Mw 9.15) Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake of 2004. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America 97, S152-S173.
      • Chlieh, M., Avouac, J.P., Sieh, K., Natawidjaja, D.H., Galetzka, J., 2008. Heterogeneous coupling of the Sumatran megathrust constrained by geodetic and paleogeodetic measurements: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 113, B05305, doi: 10.1029/2007JB004981.
      • Graindorge , D., Klingelhoefer, F., Sibuet, J.-C., McNeill , L., Henstock, T.J., Dean, S., Gutscher, M.-A., Dessa, J.X., Permana, H., Singh, S.C., Leau, H., White, N., Carton, H., Malod, J.A., Rangin, C., Aryawan, K.G., Chaubey, A.K., Chauhan, A., Galih, D.R., Greenroyd, C.J., Laesanpura, A., Prihantono, J., Royle, G., Shankar, U., 2008. Impact of lower plate structure on upper plate deformation at the NW Sumatran convergent margin from seafloor morphology: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 275, p. 201-210.
      • 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.
      • Ishii, M., Shearer, P.M., Houston, H., Vidale, J.E., 2005. Extent, duration and speed of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake imaged by the Hi-Net array. Nature 435, 933.
      • Malik, J.N., Shishikura, M., Echigo, T., Ikeda, Y., Satake, K., Kayanne, H., Sawai, Y., Murty, C.V.R., Dikshit, D., 2011. Geologic evidence for two pre-2004 earthquakes during recent centuries near Port Blair, South Andaman Island, India: Geology, v. 39, p. 559-562.
      • Meltzner, A.J., Sieh, K., Chiang, H., Shen, C., Suwargadi, B.W., Natawidjaja, D.H., Philobosian, B., Briggs, R.W., Galetzka, J., 2010. Coral evidence for earthquake recurrence and an A.D. 1390–1455 cluster at the south end of the 2004 Aceh–Andaman rupture. Journal of Geophysical Research 115, 1-46.
      • Patton, J.R., Goldfinger, C., Morey, A.E., Ikehara, K., Romsos, C., Stoner, J., Djadjadihardja, Y., Udrekh, Ardhyastuti, S., Gaffar, E.Z., and Vizcaino, A., 2015. A 6500 year earthquake history in the region of the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone earthquake: Geosphere, v. 11, no. 6, p. 1–62, doi:10.1130/GES01066.1.
      • Prawirodirdjo, P., McCaffrey,R., Chadwell, D., Bock, Y, and Subarya, C., 2010. Geodetic observations of an earthquake cycle at the Sumatra subduction zone: Role of interseismic strain segmentation, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, v. 115, B03414, doi:10.1029/2008JB006139
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