Extreme slip at shallow depths on subduction zone faults is a primary contributor to tsunami generation by earthquakes. Improving earthquake and tsunami risk assessment requires understanding the material and structural conditions that favor earthquake propagation to the trench. We use new biomarker thermal maturity indicators to identify seismic faults in drill core recovered from the Japan Trench subduction zone, which hosted 50 m of shallow slip during the
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- Nature Communications
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Coseismic Slip Model of the 19 September 2022 Mw 7.6 Michoacán, Mexico, Earthquake: A Quasi-Repeat of the 1973 Mw 7.6 RuptureAbstract On 19 September 2022, a major earthquake struck the northwestern Michoacán segment along the Mexican subduction zone. A slip model is obtained that satisfactorily explains geodetic, teleseismic, and tsunami observations of the 2022 event. The preferred model has a compact large-slip patch that extends up-dip and northwestward from the hypocenter and directly overlaps a 1973 Mw 7.6 rupture. Slip is concentrated offshore and below the coast at depths from 10 to 30 km with a peak value of ∼2.9 m, and there is no detected coseismic slip near the trench. The total seismic moment is 3.1×1020 N·m (Mw 7.6), 72% of which is concentrated in the first 30 s. Most aftershocks are distributed in an up-dip area of the mainshock that has small coseismic slip, suggesting near-complete strain release in the large-slip patch. Teleseismic P waveforms of the 2022 and 1973 earthquakes are similar in duration and complexity with high cross-correlation coefficients of 0.68–0.98 for long P to PP signal time windows, indicating that the 2022 earthquake is a quasi-repeat of the 1973 earthquake, possibly indicating persistent frictional properties. Both the events produced more complex P waveforms than comparable size events along Guerrero and Oaxaca, reflecting differences in patchy locking of the Mexican megathrust.
Abstract Strong tsunami excitation from slow rupture of shallow subduction zone faults is recognized as a key concern for tsunami hazard assessment. Three months after the 22 July 2020 magnitude 7.8 thrust earthquake struck the plate boundary below the Shumagin Islands, Alaska, a magnitude 7.6 aftershock ruptured with complex intraplate faulting. Despite the smaller size and predominantly strike-slip faulting mechanism inferred from seismic waves for the aftershock, it generated much larger tsunami waves than the mainshock. Here we show through detailed analysis of seismic, geodetic, and tsunami observations of the aftershock that the event implicated unprecedented source complexity, involving weakly tsunamigenic fast rupture of two intraplate faults located below and most likely above the plate boundary, along with induced strongly tsunamigenic slow thrust slip on a third fault near the shelf break likely striking nearly perpendicular to the trench. The thrust slip took over 5 min, giving no clear expression in seismic or geodetic observations while producing the sizeable far-field tsunami.
Globally, instrumentally based assessments of tsunamigenic potential of subduction zones have underestimated the magnitude and frequency of great events because of their short time record. Historical and sediment records of large earthquakes and tsunamis have expanded the temporal data and estimated size of these events. Instrumental records suggests that the Mexican Subduction earthquakes produce relatively small tsunamis, however historical records and now geologic evidence suggest that great earthquakes and tsunamis have whipped the Pacific coast of Mexico in the past. The sediment marks of centuries old-tsunamis validate historical records and indicate that large tsunamigenic earthquakes have shaken the Guerrero-Oaxaca region in southern Mexico and had an impact on a bigger stretch of the coast than previously suspected. We present the first geologic evidence of great tsunamis near the trench of a subduction zone previously underestimated as potential source for great earthquakes and tsunamis. Two sandy tsunami deposits extend over 1.5 km inland of the coast. The youngest tsunami deposit is associated with the 1787 great earthquake, M 8.6, producing a giant tsunami that poured over the coast flooding 500 km alongshore the Mexican Pacific coast and up to 6 km inland. The oldest event from a less historically documented event occurred in 1537.more »
Abstract Shallow slow-slip events (SSEs) contribute to strain release near the shallow portions of subduction interfaces and may contribute to promoting shallow subduction earthquakes. Recent efforts in offshore monitoring of shallow SSEs have provided evidence of possible interactions between shallow SSEs and megathrust earthquakes. In this study, we use a dynamic earthquake simulator that captures both quasi-static (for SSEs) and dynamic (for megathrust earthquakes) slip to explore their interactions and implications for seismic and tsunami hazards. We model slip behaviors of a shallow-dipping subduction interface on which two locally locked patches (asperities) with different strengths are embedded within a conditionally stable zone. We find that both SSEs and earthquakes can occur, and they interact over multiple earthquake cycles in the model. Dynamic ruptures can nucleate on the asperities and propagate into the surrounding conditionally stable zone at slow speeds, generating tsunami earthquakes. A clear correlation emerges between the size of an earthquake and SSE activities preceding it. Small earthquakes rupture only the low-strength asperity, whereas large earthquakes rupture both. Before a large earthquake, periodic SSEs occur around the high-strength asperity, gradually loading stress into its interior. The critically stressed high-strength asperity can be ruptured together with the low-strength one inmore »
Updated concepts of seismic gaps and asperities to assess great earthquake hazard along South AmericaSo far in this century, six very large–magnitude earthquakes ( M W ≥ 7.8) have ruptured separate portions of the subduction zone plate boundary of western South America along Ecuador, Peru, and Chile. Each source region had last experienced a very large earthquake from 74 to 261 y earlier. This history led to their designation in advance as seismic gaps with potential to host future large earthquakes. Deployments of geodetic and seismic monitoring instruments in several of the seismic gaps enhanced resolution of the subsequent faulting processes, revealing preevent patterns of geodetic slip deficit accumulation and heterogeneous coseismic slip on the megathrust fault. Localized regions of large slip, or asperities, appear to have influenced variability in how each source region ruptured relative to prior events, as repeated ruptures have had similar, but not identical slip distributions. We consider updated perspectives of seismic gaps, asperities, and geodetic locking to assess current very large earthquake hazard along the South American subduction zone, noting regions of particular concern in northern Ecuador and Colombia (1958/1906 rupture zone), southeastern Peru (southeasternmost 1868 rupture zone), north Chile (1877 rupture zone), and north-central Chile (1922 rupture zone) that have large geodetic slip deficit measurements and long intervalsmore »