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Seismic hazard on the French Riviera : new data, interpretation and simulations

Abstract : We present here a detailed analysis of a seismic data set recorded by a dense seismological network installed over 6 months in the southeast of France. This experiment was set-up at the boundary between the Ligurian basin and the southern subalpine thrust belt (the Nice arc), which is a complex tectonic region that undergoes low to moderate seismicity. We recorded more than 500 microearthquakes, among which 348 occurred exactly in the centre of the network during a very active seismic sequence that lasted mainly over 2 months. We performed an absolute location of all of the events and calculated the magnitudes. Then we applied a cross-correlation technique to gather similar events and to relocate relatively few of them. This method revealed a very clear alignment of 19 events in a direction N120° oblique to the N20° general trend of seismicity. Focal mechanisms were determined for the four largest events and composite solutions for 32 smaller ones. Both the alignments of the earthquakes and the focal solutions revealed that two oblique segments of the fault were activated during the crisis. The main segment (8 km long) that was oriented NNE with a left-lateral strike slip movement is called the Blausasc fault. Taking into account the tectonic evolution and the relationships between surface structures and the distribution of earthquakes, and through a paleaoreconstruction of the tectonic evolution, we propose that the Blausasc fault is the hidden root of the Peille-Laghet fault, which has a mapped length of at least 15 km. The smaller segment (0.6 km long) that was activated during the crisis could be interpreted as an antithetic Riedel fracture. The active Blausasc fault is located in a densely populated zone, at only 10 km from the crowded cities of Monaco and Nice. It is thus particularly interesting to analyse it for hazard assessment. In the last section, we present a simulation that is aimed at predicting what the ground motion in the city of Nice would be like if an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 occurs on this fault. For this, we used the recordings of the largest event of the seismic sequence (Ml= 3.2) and an empirical Green's function summation scheme to simulate the ground motion at two stations situated in urban environments. The values obtained show that especially on soft soil sites, the effects of such an earthquake would be considerable in the city of Nice.
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Contributor : Bernard Mercier de Lépinay <>
Submitted on : Friday, November 28, 2008 - 11:54:24 AM
Last modification on : Monday, October 12, 2020 - 11:10:18 AM

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F. Courboulex, C. Larroque, Anne Deschamps, C. Kohrs-Sansorny, C. Gélis, et al.. Seismic hazard on the French Riviera : new data, interpretation and simulations. Geophysical Journal International, Oxford University Press (OUP), 2007, 170 (1), pp.387-400. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03456.x⟩. ⟨insu-00342713⟩

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