skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: The 29 July 2021 M W 8.2 Chignik, Alaska Peninsula Earthquake Rupture Inferred From Seismic and Geodetic Observations: Re‐Rupture of the Western 2/3 of the 1938 Rupture Zone

On 29 July 2021, anMW8.2 thrust‐faulting earthquake ruptured offshore of the Alaska Peninsula within the rupture zone of the 1938MW8.2 earthquake. The spatiotemporal distribution of megathrust slip is resolved by jointly inverting regional and teleseismic broadband waveforms along with co‐seismic static and high‐rate GNSS displacements. The primarily unilateral rupture expanded northeastward, away from the rupture zone of the 22 July 2020MW7.8 Shumagin earthquake. Large slip extends along approximately 175 km, spanning about two third of the estimated 1938 aftershock zone, with well‐bounded depth from 20 to 40 km, and up to 8.6 m slip near the hypocenter. The rupture terminated in the eastern portion of the 1938 aftershock zone in a region of very large geodetic slip deficit where peak slip appears to have occurred in the 1938 rupture. The 2021 and 1938 events do not have similar slip distributions and do not indicate persistent asperities.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    A great earthquake struck the Semidi segment of the plate boundary along the Alaska Peninsula on 29 July 2021, re‐rupturing part of the 1938 rupture zone. The 2021MW8.2 Chignik earthquake occurred just northeast of the 22 July 2020MW7.8 Simeonof earthquake, with little slip overlap. Analysis of teleseismicPandSHwaves, regional Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) displacements, and near‐field and far‐field tsunami observations provides a good resolution of the 2021 rupture process. During ∼60‐s long faulting, the slip was nonuniformly distributed along the megathrust over depths from 32 to 40 km, with up to ∼12.9‐m slip in an ∼170‐km‐long patch. The 40–45 km down‐dip limit of slip is well constrained by GNSS observations along the Alaska Peninsula. Tsunami observations preclude significant slip from extending to depths <25 km, confining all coseismic slip to beneath the shallow continental shelf. Most aftershocks locate seaward of the large‐slip zones, with a concentration of activity up‐dip of the deeper southwestern slip zone. Some localized aftershock patches locate beneath the continental slope. The surface‐wave magnitudeMSof 8.1 for the 2021 earthquake is smaller thanMS = 8.3–8.4 for the 1938 event. Seismic and tsunami data indicate that slip in 1938 was concentrated in the eastern region of its aftershock zone, extending beyond the Semidi Islands, where the 2021 event did not rupture.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The eastern portion of the Shumagin gap along the Alaska Peninsula ruptured in anMW7.8 thrust earthquake on 22 July 2020. The megathrust fault space‐time slip history is determined by joint inversion of regional and teleseismic waveform data along with co‐seismic static Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) displacements. The rupture expanded westward and along‐dip from the hypocenter, located adjacent to the 1938MW8.2 Alaska earthquake, with slip and aftershocks extending into the gap about 180 to 205 km, respectively, at depths from 15 to 40 km. The deeper half of ~75% of the Shumagin gap experienced faulting. However, the patchy slip is significantly less than possible accumulated slip since the region's last major rupture in 1917, compatible with geodetic seismic‐coupling estimates of 10‐40% beneath the Shumagin Islands. The rupture terminated in the western region of very low seismic coupling. There was a regional decade‐scale decrease in b‐value prior to the 2020 event.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The 2021MW6.0 Yangbi, Yunnan strike‐slip earthquake occurred on an unmapped crustal fault near the Weixi‐Qiaoho‐Weishan Fault along the southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Using near‐source broadband seismic data from ChinArray, we investigate the spatial and temporal rupture evolution of the mainshock using apparent moment‐rate functions (AMRFs) determined by the empirical Green's function (EGF) method. Assuming a 1D line source on the fault plane, the rupture propagated unilaterally southeastward (∼144°) over a rupture length of ∼8.0 km with an estimated rupture speed of 2.1 km/s to 2.4 km/s. A 2D coseismic slip distribution for an assumed maximum rupture propagation speed of 2.2 km/s indicates that the rupture propagated to the southeast ∼8.0 km along strike and ∼5.0 km downdip with a peak slip of ∼2.1 m before stopping near the largest foreshock, where three bifurcating subfaults intersect. Using the AMRFs, the radiated energy of the mainshock is estimated as ∼. The relatively low moment scaled radiated energyof 1.5 × 10−5and intense foreshock and aftershock activity might indicate reactivation of an immature fault. The earthquake sequence is mainly distributed along a northwest‐southeast trend, and aftershocks and foreshocks are distributed near the periphery of the mainshock large‐slip area, suggesting that the stress in the mainshock slip zone is significantly reduced to below the level for more than a few overlapping aftershock to occur.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The Shumagin seismic gap along the Alaska Peninsula experienced a major,MW7.8, interplate thrust earthquake on 22 July 2020. Several available finite‐fault inversions indicate patchy slip of up to 4 m at 8–48 km depth. There are differences among the models in peak slip and absolute placement of slip on the plate boundary, resulting from differences in data distributions, model parameterizations, and inversion algorithms. Two representative slip models obtained from inversions of large seismic and geodetic data sets produce very different tsunami predictions at tide gauges and deep‐water pressure sensors (DART stations), despite having only secondary differences in slip distribution. This is found to be the result of the acute sensitivity of the tsunami excitation for rupture below the continental shelf in proximity to an abrupt shelf break. Iteratively perturbing seismic and geodetic inversions by constraining fault model extent along dip and strike, we obtain an optimal rupture model compatible with teleseismicPandSHwaves, regional three‐component broadband and strong‐motion seismic recordings, hr‐GNSS time series and static offsets, as well as tsunami recordings at DART stations and regional and remote tide gauges. Slip is tightly bounded between 25 and 40 km depth, the up‐dip limit of slip in the earthquake is resolved to be well‐inland of the shelf break, and the rupture extent along strike is well‐constrained. The coseismic slip increased Coulomb stress on the shallow plate boundary extending to the trench, but the frictional behavior of the megathrust below the continental slope remains uncertain.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Slow slip events (SSEs) have been observed in spatial and temporal proximity to megathrust earthquakes in various subduction zones, including the 2014Mw7.3 Guerrero, Mexico earthquake which was preceded by aMw7.6 SSE. However, the underlying physics connecting SSEs to earthquakes remains elusive. Here, we link 3D slow‐slip cycle models with dynamic rupture simulations across the geometrically complex flat‐slab Cocos plate boundary. Our physics‐based models reproduce key regional geodetic and teleseismic fault slip observations on timescales from decades to seconds. We find that accelerating SSE fronts transiently increase shear stress at the down‐dip end of the seismogenic zone, modulated by the complex geometry beneath the Guerrero segment. The shear stresses cast by the migrating fronts of the 2014Mw7.6 SSE are significantly larger than those during the three previous episodic SSEs that occurred along the same portion of the megathrust. We show that the SSE transient stresses are large enough to nucleate earthquake dynamic rupture and affect rupture dynamics. However, additional frictional asperities in the seismogenic part of the megathrust are required to explain the observed complexities in the coseismic energy release and static surface displacements of the Guerrero earthquake. We conclude that it is crucial to jointly analyze the long‐ and short‐term interactions and complexities of SSEs and megathrust earthquakes across several (a)seismic cycles accounting for megathrust geometry. Our study has important implications for identifying earthquake precursors and understanding the link between transient and sudden megathrust faulting processes.

    more » « less