Quantitative Study of Seismogenic Potential Along Manila Trench: Effects of Scaborough Seamount Chain Subduction
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Modern seismicity record along the Manila Trench shows only infrequent Mw7 earthquakes, the lack of great earthquakes may indicate the subduction fault is either aseismically slipping or is accumulating strain energy toward rapid release in a megathrust earthquake. We conduct numerical simulations of the plate coupling, earthquake nucleation and dynamic rupture propagation processes along the Manila subduction fault (15-19.5ºN), taking into consideration the effects of plate geometry (including subducted seamounts), fault strength, rate-state frictional properties and pore pressure variations. Specifically, we use the bathymetry to depict the outline of Manila trench along its strike, 2681 background seismicity (1970/02/13 to 2013/09/06) from Chinese Earthquake Network Center and 540 focal mechanism solutions (1976/01/01 to 2013/01/27) from Global CMT project to constrain the geometry of the subducting Sunda/Eurasian slab. The compilation of seismicity and focal mechanism indicates the plate dipping angle gradually changes from 28º (south of the Scaborough Seamount Chain) to 12º (north of it). This geometric anomaly may due to the subducted part of the seamount chain. Preliminary modeling results using gabbro gouge friction data show that the Scaborough Seamount Chain could be a barrier to earthquake rupture propagation. Only earthquakes larger than Mw7 can overcome the barrier to rupture the entire Manila trench. Smaller earthquakes would cease rupturing when it encounters the seamount chain. Moreover, we propose that Manila trench subduction zone has the potential of rupturing in a Mw8 megathrust earthquake, if the simulation period is long enough for an Mw8 earthquake cycle and dynamic rupture overcomes the subducted Scaborough Seamount Chain. Our model parameters will be further constrained by laboratory rock mechanics experiments conducted on IODP Expedition 349, South China Sea (SCS), drilling samples (work in progress at China Earthquake Administration Key Laboratory of Earthquake Dynamics), and by GPS records from the Luzon Island. Our results improve ability of earthquake and tsunami hazards assessment and mitigation in the populated regions around the SCS, and provide theoretical basis for future ocean bottom seismometer and seafloor geodesy experiments in the SCS.