Abandoned Beach Ridges in the Mejillones Peninsula, Northern Chile: Implications for Paleoseismology of Great Subduction Earthquakes.
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
The Mejillones Peninsula, in northern Chile, shows a well-preserved set of beach ridges parallel to the present coast. These beach ridges can be observed up to 20 km inland and at 200 m above sea level. Previous dating performed in fossils extracted from the oldest beach ridges yielded ages of 400 ka (Victor et al., 2011). However, numerical ages for younger beach ridges have not been determined, therefore a complete time record is not available. InSar data show that the Mejillones Peninsula was uplifted several centimeters during the last two subduction earthquakes (Antofagasta Mw 8.1, 1995 earthquake and the Mw 7.7, 2007 Tocopilla earthquake) occurred in the area (Loveless et al., 2010). A permanent GPS station deployed by CALTECH (http://web.gps.caltech.edu/~jeff/andes/) in this peninsula has measured a coseismic uplift during the 2007 Tocopilla earthquake. This data suggest that the beach ridges were abandoned as a consequence of coseismic uplift during great subduction earthquakes and therefore they represent the long-term record of past earthquakes. In order to prove this hypothesis we excavated five trenches across the beach ridges. Our idea is to look for stratigraphic evidence of the abandonment mechanism and to collect samples for dating the beach ridges using the method of optically stimulated luminescence (OSL). The ages will be used to estimate long-term uplift rate and temporal variation of this rate. By confronting short-term uplift rate provided by GPS data with long-term rate we hope to know what it is the amount of the coseismic slip that remain in the geological record.