Response of forearc crustal faults to the megathrust earthquake cycle: InSAR evidence from Mejillones Peninsula, Northern Chile

M. Shirzaei, R. Bürgmann, O. Oncken, T. R. Walter, P. Victor, O. Ewiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report on a rare example of aseismic response of a creeping fault to the earthquake cycle of a nearby megathrust. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) is used to detect and analyze shallow creep of two crustal faults at Mejilones Peninsula, Northern Chile, located in the hanging wall of the 2007 Mw 7.7 Tocopilla subduction earthquake. We generate two independent time series of surface deformation spanning ~3.5. yr of late interseismic and ~1.5. yr early postseismic deformation associated with this event. The analysis reveals creep on the Mejillones fault as well as on a previously unmapped fault to the west of the Mejillones fault. The InSAR deformation maps and distributed slip models obtained from the data reveal that fault creep reversed between the interseismic and postseismic periods. Given the regional stress field perturbations due to interseismic and coseismic deformation, we argue that the observed shallow creep and its slip reversal are directly linked to the megathrust seismic cycle. Moreover, from similar eastward dips but opposite slip directions of the two faults, we infer that fault strength must be very low and that the kinematics is controlled by crustal flexure associated with the seismic cycle on the underlying megathrust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume333-334
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Crustal fault creep
  • InSAR and modeling
  • Megathrust earthquake cycle
  • Tocopilla earthquake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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