Earthquake of the Day: 2010.02.27 M 8.8 Maule, Chile.
There was an earthquake with a magnitude of M 8.8 on this day in 2010. I have prepared an interpretive poster that shows the extent of ground shaking modeled for this earthquake. The attenuation relations (how the ground shaking diminishes with distance from the rutpure) generally match the ground shaking reports on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” web page.
I also include other material on the poster, including information about the 1960 M 9.5 Chile earthquake, which is the largest that we have ever recorded on modern seismologic instruments. Below are the USGS web pages for these two earthquakes. Here is the kml file for these earthquakes.
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 ≥ 8.0.
- I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northeast-southwest compression, perpendicular to the convergence at this plate boundary. Most of the recent seismicity in this region is associated with convergence along the New Britain trench or the South Solomon trench.
- I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
- I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault. The hypocentral depth plots this close to the location of the fault as mapped by Hayes et al. (2012).
- In the upper right corner, I include a time-space diagram from Moernaut et al. (2010).
- In the upper left corner I include an inset map from the USGS Seismicity History poster for this region (Rhea et al., 2010). There is one seismicity cross section with its locations plotted on the map. The USGS plot these hypocenters along this cross section and I include that below (with the legend).
- In the lower right corner are the MMI intensity maps for the two earthquakes listed above: 1960 M 9.5 & 2010 M 8.8. Note these are at different map scales.
I include some inset figures in the poster.
- Here is a great figure from Lin et al. (2013) that shows the tectonic context of the 2010 Maule earthquake. On the map are plotted extents of historic earthquakes along this convergent plate margin. On the right is a large scale map showing the active magmatic arc volcanoes associated with this subduction zone. Finally, there is a cross section showing where the coseismic slip and postseismic slip occurred. I include the figure captions as blockquote.
- In the upper right corner, I include a map showing seismicity from 2010. Note how active the margin is. Also, check out the magnetic anomaly overlay showing evidence for the formation of oceanic lithosphere at spreading ridges. These magnetic anomaly data are also overlain on the main map.
- In the lower right corner is a map that shows a comparison between the USGS earthquake intensity models (the colored areas) and USGS Did You Feel It? (dyfi) reports. These colors are based on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale.
- To the left of the intensity map is a plot showing these same data, how shaking intensity (vertical axis = MMI) diminishes (attenuates) with distance from the earthquake (horizontal axis in km).
- Above the intensity plot is a schematic cross-section that shows where earthquakes can occur along a megathrust subduction zone fault system.
- In the upper right are two maps that show the potential for earthquake triggered landslides (on left) and earthquake induced liquefaction (on right). These are USGS products which can be viewed on the earthquake page for this event.
(a) Regional tectonic map showing slab isodepth contours (blue lines) [Cahill and Isacks, 1992], M>=4 earthquakes from the National Earthquake Information Center catalog between 1976 and 2011 (yellow circles for depths less than 50 km, and blue circles for depths greater than 50 km), active volcanoes (red triangles), and the approximate extent of large megathrust earthquakes during the past hundred years (red ellipses) modified from Campos et al. . The large white vector represents the direction of Nazca Plate with respect to stable South America [Kendrick et al., 2003]. (b) Simplified seismo-tectonic map of the study area. Major Quaternary faults are modified after Melnick et al.  (black lines). The Neogene Deformation Front is modified from Folguera et al. . The west-vergent thrust fault that bounds the west of the Andes between 32 and 38S is modified from Melnick et al. . (c) Schematic cross-section along line A–A0 (Figure 1b), modified from Folguera and Ramos . The upper bound of the coseismic slip coincides with the boundary between the frontal accretionary prism and the paleo-accretionary prism [Contreras-Reyes et al., 2010], whereas the contact between the coseismic and postseismic patch is from this study. The thick solid red line and dashed red line on top of the slab represent the approximate coseismic and postseismic plus interseismic slip section of the subduction interface. The thin red and grey lines within the overriding plate are active and inactive structures in the retroarc, modified from Folguera and Ramos . The red dashed line underneath the Andean Block represents the regional décollement. Background seismicity is from the TIPTEQ catalog, recorded between November 2004 and October 2005 [Rietbrock et al., 2005; Haberland et al., 2009].
Here is an updated interpretive poster from 2021.
I include some inset figures in the poster.
- Here is a figure that shows a more detailed comparison between the modeled intensity and the reported intensity. Both data use the same color scale, the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI). More about this can be found here. The colors and contours on the map are results from the USGS modeled intensity. The DYFI data are plotted as colored dots (color = MMI, diameter = number of reports).
- In the upper panel is the USGS Did You Feel It reports map, showing reports as colored dots using the MMI color scale. Underlain on this map are colored areas showing the USGS modeled estimate for shaking intensity (MMI scale).
- In the lower panel is a plot showing MMI intensity (vertical axis) relative to distance from the earthquake (horizontal axis). The models are represented by the green and orange lines. The DYFI data are plotted as light blue dots. The mean and median (different types of “average”) are plotted as orange and purple dots. Note how well the reports fit the green line (the model that represents how MMI works based on quakes in California).
- Below the lower plot is the USGS MMI Intensity scale, which lists the level of damage for each level of intensity, along with approximate measures of how strongly the ground shakes at these intensities, showing levels in acceleration (Peak Ground Acceleration, PGA) and velocity (Peak Ground Velocity, PGV).
Potential for Ground Failure
- Below are a series of maps that show the potential for landslides and liquefaction. These are all USGS data products.
There are many different ways in which a landslide can be triggered. The first order relations behind slope failure (landslides) is that the “resisting” forces that are preventing slope failure (e.g. the strength of the bedrock or soil) are overcome by the “driving” forces that are pushing this land downwards (e.g. gravity). The ratio of resisting forces to driving forces is called the Factor of Safety (FOS). We can write this ratio like this:
FOS = Resisting Force / Driving Force
When FOS > 1, the slope is stable and when FOS < 1, the slope fails and we get a landslide. The illustration below shows these relations. Note how the slope angle α can take part in this ratio (the steeper the slope, the greater impact of the mass of the slope can contribute to driving forces). The real world is more complicated than the simplified illustration below.
Landslide ground shaking can change the Factor of Safety in several ways that might increase the driving force or decrease the resisting force. Keefer (1984) studied a global data set of earthquake triggered landslides and found that larger earthquakes trigger larger and more numerous landslides across a larger area than do smaller earthquakes. Earthquakes can cause landslides because the seismic waves can cause the driving force to increase (the earthquake motions can “push” the land downwards), leading to a landslide. In addition, ground shaking can change the strength of these earth materials (a form of resisting force) with a process called liquefaction.
Sediment or soil strength is based upon the ability for sediment particles to push against each other without moving. This is a combination of friction and the forces exerted between these particles. This is loosely what we call the “angle of internal friction.” Liquefaction is a process by which pore pressure increases cause water to push out against the sediment particles so that they are no longer touching.
An analogy that some may be familiar with relates to a visit to the beach. When one is walking on the wet sand near the shoreline, the sand may hold the weight of our body generally pretty well. However, if we stop and vibrate our feet back and forth, this causes pore pressure to increase and we sink into the sand as the sand liquefies. Or, at least our feet sink into the sand.
Below is a diagram showing how an increase in pore pressure can push against the sediment particles so that they are not touching any more. This allows the particles to move around and this is why our feet sink in the sand in the analogy above. This is also what changes the strength of earth materials such that a landslide can be triggered.
Below is a diagram based upon a publication designed to educate the public about landslides and the processes that trigger them (USGS, 2004). Additional background information about landslide types can be found in Highland et al. (2008). There was a variety of landslide types that can be observed surrounding the earthquake region. So, this illustration can help people when they observing the landscape response to the earthquake whether they are using aerial imagery, photos in newspaper or website articles, or videos on social media. Will you be able to locate a landslide scarp or the toe of a landslide? This figure shows a rotational landslide, one where the land rotates along a curvilinear failure surface.
- Below is the liquefaction susceptibility and landslide probability map (Jessee et al., 2017; Zhu et al., 2017). Please head over to that report for more information about the USGS Ground Failure products (landslides and liquefaction). Basically, earthquakes shake the ground and this ground shaking can cause landslides.
- I use the same color scheme that the USGS uses on their website. Note how the areas that are more likely to have experienced earthquake induced liquefaction are in the valleys. Learn more about how the USGS prepares these model results here.
Some Relevant Discussion and Figures
- Below are some figures from Moreno et al. (2011) that show estimates of locking along the plate interface in this region. I include the figure captions as blockquote.
- The first figure shows how the region of today’s earthquake is in an area of higher locking.
- This second figure shows the moment released during historic earthquakes and the moment accumulated due to seismogenic locking along the megathrust.
a) Optimal distribution of locking rate in the plate interface. Predicted interseismic velocities and GPS vectors corrected by the postseismic signals are shown by green and blue arrows, respectively. b) Tradeoff curve for a broad range of the smoothing parameter (β). The optimal value for β is 0.0095 located at the inflection of the curve.
a) Latitudinal distribution of the coseismic moment (Mc) released by the 1960 Valdivia (Moreno et al., 2009) (red line) and 2010 Maule (Tong et al., 2010) (blue line) earthquakes, and of accumulated deficit of moment (Md) due to interseismic locking of the plate interface 50 (orange line) and 300 (gray line) years after the 1960 earthquake, respectively. The range of errors of the Md rate is depicted by dashed lines. High rate of Md was found in the earthquake rupture boundary, where slip deficit accumulated since 1835 seems to be not completely released by the 2010 Maule earthquake. b) Schematic map showing the deformation processes that control the observed deformation in the southern Andes and the similarity between coseismic and locking patches. Blue and red contours denote the coseismic slip for the 2010 Maule (Tong et al., 2010) and 1960 Valdivia (Moreno et al., 2009) earthquakes, respectively. Patches with locking degree over 0.75 are shown by brown shaded areas. The 1960 earthquake (red star) nucleated in the segment boundary, area that appears to be highly locked at present. The 2011 Mw 7.1 aftershock (gray) may indicate that stress has been transmitted to the southern limit of the Arauco peninsula.
- Here is a figure from Moreno et al. (2010) that shows the seismogenic locking for the region that includes the 2010 earthquake (shown with a focal mechanism from the M 8.8 earthquake. The figure caption is included below in blockquote.
Tectonic setting of the study area, data, observations and results. a, Shaded relief map of the Andean subduction zone in South- Central Chile. Earthquake segmentation along the margin is indicated by ellipses that enclose the approximate rupture areas of historic earthquakes (updated from refs 4–6). The inset shows the location of panel a (rectangle) relative to the South American continent. b, Compilation of GPS-observed surface velocities (1996–2008) with respect to stable South America before the 2010 Maule earthquake (for references see online-only Methods). Ellipses attached to the arrows represent 95% confidence limits. c, GPS 1 FEM modelled interface locking (fraction of plate convergence) distribution along the Andean subduction zone megathrust in the decade before the 2010 Maule earthquake. The epicentre (white star, USGS NEIC) and focal mechanism (beach ball, GCMT, http://www.globalcmt.org) of the 2010 Maule earthquake are shown in panels a and c.
- This is also from Moreno et al. (2010) and shows the relations between different parts of the earthquake cycle. Recall these parts are the interseismic (between earthquakes), coseismic (during the earthquake), preseismic (before the earthquake), and postseismic (after the earthquake). The postseismic phase can last days to decades.
Relationship [sic] between pre, co- and postseismic deformation patterns. a, Coseismic slip distribution during the 2010 (blue contours; USGS slip model26) and 1960 (green contours; from ref. 30) earthquakes overlain onto pre-seismic locking pattern (red shading $0.75), as well as early (during the first 48 h post-shock) M$5 aftershock locations (the grey circle sizes scale with magnitude; GEOFON data29). b, Histograms of early (first 48 h; total number of events, 80) and late (first 3 months; total number of events, 168) aftershock density along a north–south profile (GEOFON data29, M$5). c, Residual slip deficits since 1835 as observed after the 2010 earthquake along a north–south profile (left column, based on the USGS slip model26). The middle and right columns show the effects on slip deficit of overlapping twentieth-century earthquakes (the black lines are polynomial fits to the data). Coloured data points and dates indicate earthquakes by year of occurrence.
- This figure shows the results of analyses from Lin et al. (2013) where they estimate the spatial variation in postseismic slip associated with the 201 M 8.8 Maule earthquake. They used GPS observations along the upper plate to estimate how the fault continued to slip after the main earthquake.
Comparison of the postseismic slip model between the 1st and 488th day constrained by (a) horizontal GPS observations only, (b) all three components of GPS observations, and (c) three component GPS observations plus InSAR data. The coseismic slip model is of 2.5 m contour intervals (gray lines). (d) The same afterslip model as Figure 9c. Red dots are aftershocks [Rietbrock et al., 2012]. Black triangles represent the location of GPS stations. A is the afterslip downdip of the coseismic slip patch, with the black arrows indicating the along-strike extent. B and C correspond to two regions of afterslip that bound the southern and northern end of the coseismic slip patch. D is a deep slip patch that may reflect some tropospheric errors in the Andes.
- Here is the space-time diagram from Moernaut et al., 2010. I include their figure caption below in blockquote.
Fig.: Setting and historical earthquakes in South-Central Chile. Data derived from Barrientos (2007); Campos et al. (2002); Melnick et al.(2009)
- The September 2015 earthquake series inspired me to compile some information on the historic tsunami in this region. Here is my report on those tsunami. Below I present my figure and an animation that compares these three tsunami from 1960, 2010, and 2014.
- 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 the cross section of the subduction zone just to the south of the Sept/Nov 2015 swarm (Melnick et al., 2006). Below I include the text from the Melnick et al. (2006) figure caption as block text.
(A) Seismotectonic segments, rupture zones of historical subduction earthquakes, and main tectonic features of the south-central Andean convergent margin. Earthquakes were compiled from Lomnitz (1970, 2004), Kelleher (1972), Comte et al. (1986), Cifuentes (1989), Beck et al. (1998 ), and Campos et al. (2002). Nazca plate and trench are from Bangs and Cande (1997) and Tebbens and Cande (1997). Maximum extension of glaciers is from Rabassa and Clapperton (1990). F.Z.—fracture zone. (B) Regional morphotectonic units, Quaternary faults, and location of the study area. Trench and slope have been interpreted from multibeam bathymetry and seismic-reflection profiles (Reichert et al., 2002). (C) Profile of the offshore Chile margin at ~37°S, indicated by thick stippled line on the map and based on seismic-reflection profiles SO161-24 and ENAP-017. Integrated Seismological experiment in the Southern Andes (ISSA) local network seismicity (Bohm et al., 2002) is shown by dots; focal mechanism is from Bruhn (2003). Updip limit of seismogenic coupling zone from heat-fl ow measurements (Grevemeyer et al., 2003). Basal accretion of trench sediments from sandbox models (Lohrmann, 2002; Glodny et al., 2005). Convergence parameters from Somoza (1998 ).
- In September through November of 2015, there was a M 8.3 earthquake further to the north. Below is my interpretive poster for that earthquake and here is my report, where I discuss the relations between the 2010, 2015, and other historic earthquakes in this region. Here is my report from September.
- Here is a space time diagram from Beck et al. (1998 ). The 2015 earthquake occurs in the region of the 1943 and 1880 earthquakes. I updated this figure to show the latitudinal extent of the 2010 and 2015 earthquakes.
- 2016.12.25 M 7.6 Chile
- 2016.11.24 M 7.0 El Salvador
- 2016.11.04 M 6.4 Maule, Chile
- 2015.11.29 M 5.9 Argentina
- 2015.11.11 M 6.9 Chile
- 2015.11.24 M 7.6 Peru
- 2015.11.26 M 7.6 Peru Update
- 2015.09.16 M 8.3 Chile
- 2014.04.01 M 8.2 Chile
Earthquake Reports: Chile | South America
- Beck, S., Barientos, S., Kausel, E., and Reyes, M., 1998. Source Characteristics of Historic Earthquakes along the Central Chile Subduction Zone in Journal of South American Earth Sciences, v. 11, no. 2., p. 115-129.
- 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.
- Lin, Y.N., Slkaden, A., Ortega-Culaciati, F., Simons, M., Avouac, J-P., Fielding, E.J., Brooks,, B.A., Bevis, M., Genrich, J., Rietbrock, A., Vigny, C., Smalley, R., and Socquet, A., 2013. Coseismic and postseismic slip associated with the 2010 Maule Earthquake, Chile: Characterizing the Arauco Peninsula barrier effect in JGR, v. 118, p. 1-18, doi:10.1002/jgrb.50207, 2013
- Melnick, D., Bookhagen, B., Echtler, H.P., and Strecker, M.R., 2006. Coastal deformation and great subduction earthquakes, Isla Santa María, Chile (37°S) in GSA Bulletin, v. 118, no. 11/12, p. 1463-1480.
- Moernaut, J., Batist, M., Haeirman, K., Van Daele, M., Brümmer, R., Urrutia, R., Wolff, C., Brauer, A., Roberts, S., Kilian, R., Pino, M., 2010. Recurrence of 1960-like earthquake shaking in South-Central Chile revealed by lacustrine sedimentary records in proceedings Chapman Conference on Giant Earthquakes and Their Tsunamis Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, and Valdivia, Chile 16–24 May 2010.
- Moreno, M., Rosenau, M., and Oncken, O., 2010. 2010 Maule earthquake slip correlates with pre-seismic locking of Andean subduction zone in Nature, v. 467, p. 198-202
- Moreno, M., Melnick, D., Rosenau, M., Bolte, J., Klotz, J., Echtler, H., Basez, J., Bataille, K., Chen, J., Bevis, M., Hase, H., Oncken, O., 2011. Heterogeneous plate locking in the South–Central Chile subduction zone: Building up the next great earthquake in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 305, p. 413-424.
- Rhea, Susan, Hayes, Gavin, Villaseñor, Antonio, Furlong, K.P., Tarr, A.C., and Benz, H.M., Seismicity of the earth 1900–2007, Nazca Plate and South America: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-E, 1 sheet, scale 1:12,000,000.
- Rodrigo, C. and Lara, L.E., 2014. Plate tectonics and the origin of the Juan Fernández Ridge: analysis of bathymetry and magnetic patterns in Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res, v. 42, no. 4, p. 907-917
- von Huene, R. et al., 1997. Tectonic control of the subducting Juan Fernandez Ridge on the Andean margin near Valparaiso, Chile in Tectonics, v. 16, no. 3, p. 474-488.