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A seismological study of the 1835 seismic gap in south-central Chile

Abstract : We study the possible seismic gap in the Concepción-Constitución region of south-central Chile and the nature of the M=7.8 earthquake of January 1939. From 1 March to 31 May 1996 a seismic network of 26 short period digital instruments was deployed in this area. We located 379 hypocenters with rms travel time residuals of less than 0.50 s using an approximate velocity distribution. Using the VELEST program, we improved the velocity model and located 240 high precision hypocenters with residuals less than 0.2 s. The large majority of earthquakes occurred along the Wadati-Benioff zone along the upper part of the downgoing slab under central Chile. A few shallow events were recorded near the chain of active volcanos on the Andes; these events are similar to those of Las Melozas near Santiago. A few events took place at the boundary between the coastal ranges and the central valley. Well constrained fault plane solutions could be computed for 32 of the 240 well located events. Most of the earthquakes located on the Wadati-Benioff zone had "slab-pull" fault mechanism due to tensional stresses sub-parallel to the downgoing slab. This "slab-pull" mechanism is the same as that of eight earthquakes of magnitude around 6 that are listed in the CMT catalog of Harvard University for the period 1980-1998. This is also the mechanism inferred for the large 1939 Chilean earthquake. A very small number of events in the Benioff zone had "slab-push" mechanisms, that is events whose pressure axis is aligned with the slab. These events are found in double layered Wadati-Benioff zones, such as in northern Chile or Japan. Our spatial resolution is not good enough to detect the presence of a double layer, but we suspect there may be one.
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Submitted on : Saturday, March 12, 2022 - 5:41:43 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 17, 2022 - 10:08:29 AM

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J. Campos, D. Hatzfeld, R. Madariaga, G. Lopez, E. Kausel, et al.. A seismological study of the 1835 seismic gap in south-central Chile. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, 2002, 132, pp.177-195. ⟨10.1016/S0031-9201(02)00051-1⟩. ⟨insu-03607068⟩

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