Seismicity and Geometry Properties of the Hellenic Subduction Zone

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Eleftheria E Papadimitriou1, Vassilis G Karakostas1, Filippos Vallianatos2, Costas Makropoulos3 and Giorgos Drakatos4, (1)Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece, (2)Technological Educational Institute of Crete, Chania, Greece, (3)Athens University, Athens, Greece, (4)National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
Recent seismicity and fault plane solutions of earthquakes that occurred along the Hellenic Arc–Trench system are engaged for approximating the geometry of the subducted oceanic plate. Seismicity and focal mechanisms confirm the gentle subduction (~15o–20o) of the oceanic crust reaching a depth of 20 km at a distance of 100 km from the trench. The slab is then bending at larger angles, and in particular at ~45o up to the depth of 80 km and at ~65o up to the depth of 180 km, when seismicity ceased. This geometry of the slab is shown in a bunch of cross sections normal to the convergence strike, up to ~25o (east Crete Island). To the east the sparse inslab seismicity reveals an almost vertical dipping of the lower part (from 80 km downdip) of the descending slab. The slab interface that accommodates hazardous earthquakes is clearly nonplanar with the main seismic moment release taking place on its up–dip side. The fore–arc, upper plate seismicity, is remarkably low in comparison with both subduction and back arc seismicity, and confined inside a seismogenic layer having a width not exceeding the 20km. Offshore seismicity is spatially variable forming distinctive streaks thus revealing that parts of the oceanic crust are probably slipped aseismically. This observation along with the fact that coupling in the Hellenic arc is only about a tenth of the plate motion, imply the presence of areas of lower and higher coupling across the subduction interface. Areas of high coupling imply areas of the slab interface subjected to high normal forces and correlate with earthquake asperities. Although asperity distributions vary substantially through time, identification of such characteristics in the seismogenesis can have a significant impact in the seismic hazard assessment.

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.