Imaging of the Rupture Zone of the Magnitude 6.2 Karonga Earthquake of 2009 using Electrical Resistivity Surveys

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Bryan Clappe1, Courtney D Hull1, Sam Dawson1, Tiara Johnson1, Daniel A Laó-Dávila1, Mohamed G Abdelsalam1, Patrick R.N. Chindandali2, Victor Nyalugwe2, Estella A Atekwana1 and Jalf Salima2, (1)Oklahoma State University Main Campus, Stillwater, OK, United States, (2)Geological Survey of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi
The 2009 Karonga earthquakes occurred in an area where active faults had not previously been known to exist. Over 5000 buildings were destroyed in the area and at least 4 people lost their lives as a direct result of the 19th of December magnitude 6.2 earthquake. The earthquake swarms occurred in the hanging wall of the main Livingstone border fault along segmented, west dipping faults that are synthetic to the Livingstone fault. The faults have a general trend of 290-350 degrees. Electrical resistivity surveys were conducted to investigate the nature of known rupture and seismogenic zones that resulted from the 2009 earthquakes in the Karonga, Malawi area. The goal of this study was to produce high-resolution images below the epicenter and nearby areas of liquefaction to determine changes in conductivity/resistivity signatures in the subsurface. An Iris Syscal Pro was utilized to conduct dipole-dipole resistivity measurements below the surface of soil at farmlands at 6 locations. Each transect was 710 meters long and had an electrode spacing of 10 meters. RES2DINV software was used to create 2-D inversion images of the rupture and seismogenic zones. We were able to observe three distinct geoelectrical layers to the north of the rupture zone and two south of the rupture zone with the discontinuity between the two marked by the location of the surface rupture. The rupture zone is characterized by ~80-meter wide area of enhanced conductivity, 5 m thick underlain by a more resistive layer dipping west. We interpret this to be the result of fine grain sands and silts brought up from depth to near surface as a result of shearing along the fault rupture or liquefaction. Electrical resistivity surveys are valuable, yet under-utilized tools for imaging near-surface effects of earthquakes.