The 2013 Crete (Hellenic Arc) Earthquake Sequence
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
The western Hellenic Arc is a well known place of active interplate deformation, where the convergence motion vector is perpendicular to the subduction front. On 12 October 2013 this area was hit by a strong (Mw=6.7) earthquake, occurred on a thrust fault onto the coupled part of the overriding and descending plates, with the compression axis being oriented in the direction of plate convergence. This was the first strong (M>6.0) event to have occurred onto this segment of the descending slab, which has accommodated the largest (M8.3) known earthquake in the Mediterranean area, and to be recorded by the Hellenic Unified Seismological Network (HUSN) that has been considerably improved in the last five years. The first 2–days relocated seismicity shows activation of the upper part of the descending slab, downdip of the plate interface and forming a relatively narrow aftershock area on map view. The less densely visited by aftershocks area, where the main shock is also encompassed, is considered as the high–slip area along the downdip portion of the subducting plane. Dense concentration of the intraslab aftershocks are probably due to the increase of static stress generated by the main shock. A spectacular feature of the aftershock activity concerns the lateral extension of the slipped area, which appears very sharply defined. This provides evidence on localized coupling and aseismically creeping areas, explaining the low coupling ratio in the Hellenic Arc, as it derives from comparison between relative plate motion and seismic energy release. Elucidating the issue of how far the associated large–slip zone might be extended along the plate interface during the main rupture is crucial in assessing future earthquake hazards from subduction events in the study area.
This research has been co–funded by the European Union (European Social Fund) and Greek national resources under the framework of the “THALES Program: SEISMO FEAR HELLARC” project.