Subduction zone locking, strain partitioning, intraplate deformation and their implications to Seismic Hazards in South America

Monday, 15 December 2014
Gerald Aguirre Galgana1, Mehrdad Mahdyiar1, Bingming Shen-Tu1, Claire Willis Pontbriand2, Elliot Klein1, Feng Wang1, Khosrow Shabestari1 and Wenzheng Yang2, (1)AIR-Worldwide Corporation, Boston, MA, United States, (2)Air Worldwide, Boston, MA, United States
We analyze active crustal deformation in South America (SA) using published GPS observations and historic seismicity along the Nazca Trench and the active Ecuador-Colombia-Venezuela Plate boundary Zone. GPS-constrained kinematisc models that incorporate block and continuum techniques are used to assess patterns of regional tectonic deformation and its implications to seismic potential. We determine interplate coupling distributions, fault slip-rates, and intraplate crustal strain rates in combination with historic earthquakes within 40 seismic zones crust to provide moment rate constraints. Along the Nazca subduction zone, we resolve a series of highly coupled patches, interpreted as high-friction producing “asperities” beneath the coasts of Ecuador, Peru and Chile. These include areas responsible for the 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule Earthquake and the 2014 Mw 8.2 Iquique Earthquake. Predicted tectonic block motions and fault slip rates reveal that the northern part of South America deforms rapidly, with crustal fault slip rates as much as ~20 mm/a. Fault slip and locking patterns reveal that the Oca Ancón-Pilar-Boconó fault system plays a key role in absorbing most of the complex eastward and southward convergence patterns in northeastern Colombia and Venezuela, while the near-parallel system of faults in eastern Colombia and Ecuador absorb part of the transpressional motion due to the ~55 mm/a Nazca-SA plate convergence. These kinematic models, in combination with historic seismicity rates, provide moment deficit rates that reveal regions with high seismic potential, such as coastal Ecuador, Bucaramanga, Arica and Antofagasta. We eventually use the combined information from moment rates and fault coupling patterns to further constrain stochastic seismic hazard models of the region by implementing realistic trench rupture scenarios (see Mahdyiar et al., this volume).