Earthquake Report: Solomon Islands

There was an earthquake along the South Solomon Trench earlier today (before I woke up). Here is the USGS website for this M 6.0 earthquake.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake. This map shows the slab contours (an estimate of the subduction zone plate interface). These contours are estimated by Hayes et al., (2012). The hypocentral depth is 10.0 km, which is shallower than the slab depth according to Hayes et al. (2012), which is about 220 km. However, the 10.0 km is probably not a correct depth as the USGS assigns default depths to earthquakes until they are analyzed further. If this depth is correct, then the earthquake could either be along the subduction megathrust fault, or a fault in the accretionary prism/upper plate.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northeast-southwest compression, perpendicular to the convergence at this plate boundary. Most of the recent seismicity in this region is associated with convergence along the New Britain trench or the South Solomon trench.

    I include some inset figures.

  • In the upper right corner is a comprehensive tectonic map of this region (Baldwin et al., 2012). The lower panel shows an inset with details for the region of the New Britain and South Solomon Trenches.
  • In the lower left corner is another generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. This map shows the major plate boundary faults including the New Britain trench (NBT), one of the main culprits for recent seismicity of this region.
  • To the right of that is a figure from Oregon State University, which are based upon Hamilton (1979). “Tectonic microplates of the Melanesian region. Arrows show net plate motion relative to the Australian Plate.” This is from Johnson, 1976.


      In this region, there was a subduction zone earthquake that generated ground deformation and a tsunami on 2007.04.10. Below is some information about that earthquake and tsunami.

    • Here is a map from the USGS that shows the rupture area of the 2007 earthquake with a hashed polygon. The epicenter is shown as a red dot. The USGS preliminary analysis of the tsunami is here. I include their text as a blockquote below.

    • The M=8.1 earthquake that occurred in the Solomon Islands on April 1, 2007 (UTC), was located along the Solomon Islands subduction zone, part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. A subduction zone is a type of plate tectonic boundary where one plate is pulled (subducted) beneath another plate. For most subduction zones that make up the western half of the Ring of Fire, the Pacific plate is being subducted beneath local plates. In this case, however, the Pacific plate is the overriding or upper plate. There are three plates being subducted along the Solomon Islands subduction zone: the Solomon Sea plate, the Woodlark plate, and the Australian plate (see figure below). A spreading center separates the Woodlark and Australian plates. More detailed information on the plate tectonics of this region can be found in Tregoning and others (1998) and Bird (2003).

        Below are some animations of the USGS tsunami simulation for the 2007 earthquake. From the USGS:

        To create a preliminary simulation of the April 2007 tsunami, we start with the fault mechanism determined by the Global CMT Project. The length of the fault that ruptured can be determined from the distribution of aftershocks or from the seismic inversion. In this case, however, we used the results from ShakeMap soon after the event to obtain an estimate of rupture length. Shown below is the preliminary simulation of the tsunami as viewed from different directions. The source and propagation model is based on an earlier study (Geist and Parsons, 2005) that investigated tsunamis from the November 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence (tsunami also observed at Gizo for the New Ireland event).

      • Tsunami wavefield at 2.4 minutes. Regional view across the Solomon Sea. Here is a link to the video file embedded below. (mp4)
      • Initial tsunami wavefield looking to the NW. Close-up view near the earthquake source. Here is a link to the video file embedded below. (mp4)
      • Initial tsunami wavefield looking to the SE. Close-up view near the earthquake source. Here is a link to the video file embedded below. (mp4)
  • This is a map showing the seismicity of this region since 2000 A.D.

  • Earlier, I discussed seismicity from 2000-2015 here. The seismicity on the west of this region appears aligned with north-south shortening along the New Britain trench, while seismicity on the east of this region appears aligned with more east-west shortening. Here is a map that I put together where I show these two tectonic domains with the seismicity from this time period (today’s earthquakes are not plotted on this map, but one may see where they might plot).

  • Here is the generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic setting and mineral deposits of eastern Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The modern arc setting related to formation of the mineral deposits comprises, from west to east, the West Bismarck arc, the New Britain arc, the Tabar-Lihir-Tanga-Feni Chain and the Solomon arc, associated with north-dipping subduction/underthrusting at the Ramu-Markham fault zone, New Britain trench and San Cristobal trench respectively. Arrows denote plate motion direction of the Australian and Pacific plates. Filled triangles denote active subduction. Outlined triangles denote slow or extinct subduction. NBP: North Bismarck plate; SBP: South Bismarck plate; AT: Adelbert Terrane; FT: Finisterre Terrane; RMF: Ramu-Markham fault zone; NBT: New Britain trench.

  • This map shows plate velocities and euler poles for different blocks. Note the counterclockwise motion of the plate that underlies the Solomon Sea (Baldwin et al., 2012). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic maps of the New Guinea region. (a) Seismicity, volcanoes, and plate motion vectors. Plate motion vectors relative to the Australian plate are surface velocity models based on GPS data, fault slip rates, and earthquake focal mechanisms (UNAVCO, http://jules.unavco.org/Voyager/Earth). Earthquake data are sourced from the International Seismological Center EHB Bulletin (http://www.isc.ac.uk); data represent events from January 1994 through January 2009 with constrained focal depths. Background image is generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Abbreviations: AB, Arafura Basin; AT, Aure Trough; AyT, Ayu Trough; BA, Banda arc; BSSL, Bismarck Sea seismic lineation; BH, Bird’s Head; BT, Banda Trench; BTFZ, Bewani-Torricelli fault zone; DD, Dayman Dome; DEI, D’Entrecasteaux Islands; FP, Fly Platform; GOP, Gulf of Papua; HP, Huon peninsula; LA, Louisiade Archipelago; LFZ, Lowlands fault zone; MaT, Manus Trench; ML, Mt. Lamington; MT, Mt. Trafalgar; MuT, Mussau Trough; MV, Mt. Victory; MTB, Mamberamo thrust belt; MVF, Managalase Plateau volcanic field; NBT, New Britain Trench; NBA, New Britain arc; NF, Nubara fault; NGT, New Guinea Trench; OJP, Ontong Java Plateau; OSF, Owen Stanley fault zone; PFTB, Papuan fold-and-thrust belt; PP, Papuan peninsula; PRi, Pocklington Rise; PT, Pocklington Trough; RMF, Ramu-Markham fault; SST, South Solomons Trench; SA, Solomon arc; SFZ, Sorong fault zone; ST, Seram Trench; TFZ, Tarera-Aiduna fault zone; TJ, AUS-WDKPAC triple junction; TL, Tasman line; TT, Trobriand Trough;WD, Weber Deep;WB, Woodlark Basin;WFTB, Western (Irian) fold-and-thrust belt; WR,Woodlark Rift; WRi, Woodlark Rise; WTB, Weyland thrust; YFZ, Yapen fault zone.White box indicates the location shown in Figure 3. (b) Map of plates, microplates, and tectonic blocks and elements of the New Guinea region. Tectonic elements modified after Hill & Hall (2003). Abbreviations: ADB, Adelbert block; AOB, April ultramafics; AUS, Australian plate; BHB, Bird’s Head block; CM, Cyclops Mountains; CWB, Cendrawasih block; CAR, Caroline microplate; EMD, Ertsberg Mining District; FA, Finisterre arc; IOB, Irian ophiolite belt; KBB, Kubor & Bena blocks (including Bena Bena terrane); LFTB, Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt; MA, Mapenduma anticline; MB, Mamberamo Basin block; MO, Marum ophiolite belt; MHS, Manus hotspot; NBS, North Bismarck plate; NGH, New Guinea highlands block; NNG, Northern New Guinea block; OKT, Ok Tedi mining district; PAC, Pacific plate; PIC, Porgera intrusive complex; PSP, Philippine Sea plate; PUB, Papuan Ultramafic Belt ophiolite; SB, Sepik Basin block; SDB, Sunda block; SBS, South Bismarck plate; SIB, Solomon Islands block; WP, Wandamen peninsula; WDK, Woodlark microplate; YQ, Yeleme quarries.

    References:

  • Baldwin, S.L., Fitzgerald, P.G., and Webb, L.E., 2012, Tectonics of the New Guinea Region, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., v. 40, pp. 495-520.
  • Bird, P., 2003. An updated digital model of plate boundaries in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 4, doi:10.1029/2001GC000252, 52 p.
  • Geist, E.L., and Parsons, T., 2005, Triggering of tsunamigenic aftershocks from large strike-slip earthquakes: Analysis of the November 2000 New Ireland earthquake sequence: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, v. 6, doi:10.1029/2005GC000935, 18 p. [Download PDF (6.5 MB)]
  • Hamilton, W.B., 1979. Tectonics of the Indonesian Region, USGS Professional Paper 1078.
  • Hayes, G. P., D. J. Wald, and R. L. Johnson (2012), Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524.
  • Holm, R. and Richards, S.W., 2013. A re-evaluation of arc-continent collision and along-arc variation in the Bismarck Sea region, Papua New Guinea in Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 60, p. 605-619.
  • Holm, R.J., Richards, S.W., Rosenbaum, G., and Spandler, C., 2015. Disparate Tectonic Settings for Mineralisation in an Active Arc, Eastern Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in proceedings from PACRIM 2015 Congress, Hong Kong ,18-21 March, 2015, pp. 7.
  • Johnson, R.W., 1976, Late Cainozoic volcanism and plate tectonics at the southern margin of the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea, in Johnson, R.W., ed., 1976, Volcanism in Australia: Amsterdam, Elsevier, p. 101-116
  • Lay, T., and Kanamori, H., 1980, Earthquake doublets in the Solomon Islands: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, v. 21, p. 283-304.
  • Schwartz, S.Y., 1999, Noncharacteristic behavior and complex recurrence of large subduction zone earthquakes: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 104, p. 23,111-123,125.
  • Schwartz, S.Y., Lay, T., and Ruff, L.J., 1989, Source process of the great 1971 Solomon Islands doublet: Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors, v. 56, p. 294-310.
  • Tregoning, P., McQueen, H., Lambeck, K., Jackson, R. Little, T., Saunders, S., and Rosa, R., 2000. Present-day crustal motion in Papua New Guinea, Earth Planets and Space, v. 52, pp. 727-730.

Earthquake Report: Tanzania

Well, I am a little late preparing this report. I actually put it together over the weekend, but am only now uploading this.

There was an interesting earthquake along the southwestern edge of Lake Victoria, in the East-Africa Rift (EAR) system. The EAR is one of the few continental rift systems on Earth. We think that continental rift systems are early in the development of an oceanic spreading ridge system. This may be what the Mid Atlantic Ridge system looked like long ago. There are no mapped faults in this region (at least in the papers that I found on the subject). On 2016.09.10, there was a M 5.9 earthquake and here is the USGS website for this earthquake. My poster below shows it as a M 5.7, but the magnitude has been adjusted to M 5.9.

Below is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. Because there are no mapped faults to give me a clue as to which slip plane this earthquake may have occurred on, it is equivocal. However, the faults to the west, which are mapped as normal (extensional) faults, may have some strike-slip faults associated with them. If this earthquake is related in that way, the right-lateral shear across the plate boundary here would suggest that this M 5.9 earthquake was along a north-south striking fault, with a right-lateral sense of motion.


    Here are some of the figures on their own. I include the original figure captions below them as blockquotes.

  • Regions of extension (Saemundsson, 2010).

  • The Afro-Arabian rift system (continental graben and depressions are shaded) (From: Baker et al., 1972)

  • Fault segments along the EAR, Chorowicz (2005).

  • Hypsographic DEM of the East African rift system. Black lines: main faults; E–W dotted lines: locations of cross-sections of Fig. 3; white surfaces: lakes; grey levels from dark (low elevations) to light (high elevations). The East African rift system is a series of several thousand kilometers long aligned successions of adjacent individual tectonic basins (rift valleys), separated from each other by relative shoals and generally bordered by uplifted shoulders. It can be regarded as an intra-continental ridge system comprising an axial rift.

  • Faults characterized vs. their major sense of motion, Chorowicz (2005).

  • Western branch and part of eastern branch of the East African rift system, on shadowed DEM.

  • Regional tectonic strain, Chorowicz (2005).

  • On-going individualization of the Somalian plate in Eastern Africa. Asthenospheric intrusions (black polygons) show already open lithosphere. White arrows show direction of relative divergent movement.

  • This is an illustration showing how the extension in this region may be accommodated by dextral (right-lateral) strike-slip faults, Chorowicz (2005).

  • Fault and fold zone of the Tanganyika–Rukwa–Malawi segment of the EARS. Folds are developed in stripes between left-stepping en echelon dextral strike-slip faults. This pattern of folds explains why some segment border areas of the Tanganyika rift form low plains instead of the usual high shoulders.

    References

  • Baker, B.H., Mohr P.A., and Williams, L.A.J., 1972: Geology of the Eastern Rift System of Africa in The Geol. Soc. of America. Special Paper, 136, 67 pp.
  • Chorowicz, J., 2005. The East African rift system in Journal of African Earth Sciences, v. 43., p. 379-410.
  • Saemundsson, K., 2010. East African Rift System – an Overview presented at Short Course V on Exploration for Geothermal Resources, organized by UNU-GTP, GDC and KenGen, at Lake Bogoria and Lake Naivasha, Kenya, Oct. 29 – Nov. 19, 2010, 10 pp.

Earthquake Report: Oklahoma!

Oklahoma is OK! Albeit a little shaken up. Early this morning there was an earthquake that started off their Labor Day Weekend. Here is the USGS website for this M 5.6 earthquake. There have been earthquakes of similar magnitude in OK in 1952 and 2011.

Below is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. This earthquake could be either a northeast striking left lateral earthquake or a northwest striking left-lateral strike-slip earthquake. Based upon the seismicity for this region of the past week or so, it appears aligned along a northwest trend.

    I include some inset figures.

  • In the upper right corner is a plot showing “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI) responses for two earthquakes. This shows how earthquakes on the west coast attenuate faster than earthquakes on the east coast. Basically, on the west coast, due to the geology there, seismic waves are absorbed by the Earth with distance. While, on the east coast, they do so to a lesser degree. The result is that earthquakes on the east coast are felt from a greater distance than those on the west coast. This comparison is for between the 2004.09.28 M 6.0 Parkfield Earthquake in California and the 2011.08.23 M 5.8 Mineral Virginia Earthquake.
  • In the lower right corner is an isoseismal map from the 1952 Oklahoma earthquake. The black lines are isoseismal lines, which means that along those lines, there were ground motions of equal intensity. The scale used on this map is similar (but different from) the MMI scale discussed above and plotted on the main map.
  • In the lower left corner are two panels. The upper panel is a map that shows the responses from “DYFI?” reports. When this map was made, there were 51,680 responses. The lower panel shows how ground motions attenuate with distance, based upon these DYFI reports. The small blue dots are individual reports. The large blue and red dots are the mean and median intensity, respectively. The green line is based upon a Ground Motion Prediction Equation (GMPE) numerical model. GMPE models are empirical relations developed using thousands of earthquake seismologic observations. This model is based upon earthquakes from the central and eastern USA.
  • To the right of those panels are two shaking intensity maps. These maps are generated using the GMPE models. The map on the left is from this 2016.09.03 M 5.6 earthquake. The map on the right is from the 2011.11.06 M 5.6 earthquake.


    I created an animation showing the uptake in seismicity in this region in the past decade or so. This animation shows seismicity from 1974 through this morning. I queried the USGS earthquake website extending the date range to 1900, but the earliest earthquake records for this region are in 1974. This increased seismicity has made Oklahoma the new earthquake capital of the lower 48 (Alaska is the earthquake king up north and Puerto Rico wins an award for number of earthquakes per unit area, down south). The increased seismicity, has been linked to the injection of waste water into the ground. Individual earthquakes are difficult to link to individual actions. However, when waste water injection is halted, seismicity is reduced. Do not confuse waste water injection with fracking. Sure, the waste water comes from the fracking industry, but the induced seismicity is largely from the waste water injection. There is some induced seismicity from fracking, but it is typically of much smaller magnitude than that for induced seismicity resulting from waste water injection.

  • First I show a map with all the earthquakes shown in the animation, then I present the animation. The map and animation include the MMI contours from today’s M 5.6 earthquake.

  • Here is a link to the embedded video below (3 MB mp4)
    Here is a plot showing the cumulative moment release from earthquakes. This shows the large increase in potentially induced seismicity in this region. This plot comes from Daniel McNamara (USGS).


    Here is a map from the USGS link above that shows seismicity since 1980. There are polygons drawn where these earthquakes are suggested to be induced by humans.



UPDATES:

    Update: 2016.09.03 14:30 PST

  • Steve Hicks, from the University of Liverpool, (@seismo_steve) used some published faults from OK, compared to the epicenters of the 2011 Prague and 2016 Pawnee earthquakes, to interpret the fault plane solution for the moment tensors. This is a reasonable interpretation, given the fault maps. However, I remember doing this for the 2012 earthquakes offshore Sumatra.

  • Daniel McNamara, from the USGS, (@DanielMcNamara) later plotted the aftershocks. These aftershocks appear to align along a possible fault that is oblique to some of the previously mapped faults. Perhaps this is a better interpretation.

Earthquake Report: New Zealand!

This was a very busy week for me, so I missed reporting on this series of earthquakes offshore the North Island of New Zealand. I did put together an interpretive Earthquake Report poster for these earthquakes for my general education earthquakes class, of which I present below. Initially there was a M 5.8 earthquake (USGS website for M 5.8), with a M 7.1 about 18 hours later (USGS website for M 7.1). Here is a kml that includes these, as well as the aftershocks to date. We have a great deal of information about the plate tectonics of this region. These earthquakes are along the northern Hikurangi margin, which is a convergent plate boundary formed by the subduction of the Pacific plate westward beneath the Australia plate.

The M 5.8 earthquake had an hypocentral depth of ~22 km, which (based upon the slab contours) places this earthquake in the downgoing Pacific plate. As plates subduct, they undergo extension as the deeper part of the plate pulls down on the shallower part of the plate. This “slab tension” can result in extensional (normal) earthquakes. Also, due to various reasons, the downgoing plate can be bent or flexed downwards. This can happen oceanward of the subduction zone or beneath the tip of the subduction zone fault, after the downgoing plate has subducted. If this downgoing plate flexes downward, the upper part of the lithosphere undergoes extension and extensional/normal earthquakes occur.

Initially, the M 7.1 earthquake was given an hypocentral depth of ~300 km. This was confusing as it did not seem to be anywhere near oceanic lithosphere as estimated by people who study this region. Within minutes, the USGS hypocentral depth was re-determined to be ~19 km. Comparing this depth with the slab contours (Hayes et al., 2012), this earthquake also occurred in the Pacific plate. The M 5.8 is probably a foreshock for the M 7.1, but we also might consider that the M 5.8 triggered the M 7.1 earthquake. Others will need to analyze these earthquake more before this detail can be worked out.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake. This map shows the slab contours (an estimate of the subduction zone plate interface). These contours are estimated by Hayes et al., (2012). The hypocentral depth is 19.0 km, which is deeper than the slab depth according to Hayes et al. (2012), which is probably about 15 km. This earthquake is clearly in one of the downgoing slabs of the Pacific plate.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northwest-southeast tension. If this is due to slab tension, then the slab would be dipping to the northwest, or the southeast. This tension may also be due to some form of bending in the slab, but it is difficult to tell given these limited data. Most of the recent seismicity in this region is associated with convergence along the New Britain trench or the South Solomon trench.

    I include some inset figures.

  • In the upper right corner is a generalized tectonic map from Mike Norton (see poster for attribution).
  • In the lower right corner is a cross section of the southern Kermadec Trench. This was produced by Jack Cook at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The Lousiville Seamount Chain is clearly visible in this graphic.
  • In the upper left corner I include a map from the USGS Open File Report for this region of the world (Benz et al., 2011). The map shows seismicity colored vs. depth, some slab contours, and the location of the two cross sections that are also included in this poster (J-J’ and K-K’).


    Here are two figures from Jascha Polet, a seismologist at Cal Poly Pomona.

  • Here is a map showing seismicity and moment tensors for historic earthquakes, as well as the m 7.1 earthquake.

  • Here is a cross section showing the same seismicity and moment tensor data.

  • Here are some cross sections from Scherwath et al. (2010), located close to where the M 7.1 earthquake occurred. Note how the M 7.1 occurred at a location where the downgoing Pacific plate is indeed bending downward near the M 7.1 hypocenter.

For more on the graphical representation of moment tensors and focal mechanisms, check this IRIS video out:

Earthquake Report: Mendocino fault!

Well, I felt that one. The shaking lasted about 5-7 seconds in Manila, CA (where I live). Here is the USGS website for this M = 5.6 earthquake. This earthquake appears to have occurred along the Mendocino fault, a right-lateral (dextral) transform plate boundary. This plate boundary connects the Gorda ridge and Juan de Fuca rise spreading centers with their counterparts in the Gulf of California, with the San Andreas strike-slip fault system. Transform plate boundaries are defined that they are strike-slip and that they connect spreading ridges. In this sense of the definition, the Mendocino fault and the San Andreas fault are part of the same system. This earthquake appears to have occurred in a region of the Mendocino fault that ruptured in 1994. See the figures from Rollins and Stein below.

Below is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. Based on the moment tensor and my knowledge of the tectonics of this region, I interpret this earthquake to have had a right lateral strike slip motion along an east-west fault.

    I have placed several inset figures.

  • In the lower left corner is a map of the Cascadia subduction zone and regional tectonic plate boundary faults. This is modified from several sources (Chaytor et al., 2004; Nelson et al., 2004)
  • Above the CSZ map is an illustration from Atwater et al. (2005). This figure shows how a subduction zone deforms between (interseismic) and during (coseismic) earthquakes. We also can see how a subduction zone generates a tsunami. Atwater et al., 2005.
  • In the upper right corner is a map from Rollins and Stein (2010), showing their interpretations of different historic earthquakes in the region. This was published in response to the January 2010 Gorda plate earthquake.
  • In the lower right corner is an image from an introductory textbook I found several years ago. I believe this is from Pearson Higher Ed.


For more on the graphical representation of moment tensors and focal mechnisms, check this IRIS video out:

Here is a map of the Cascadia subduction zone, modified from Nelson et al. (2004). The Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates subduct norteastwardly beneath the North America plate at rates ranging from 29- to 45-mm/yr. Sites where evidence of past earthquakes (paleoseismology) are denoted by white dots. Where there is also evidence for past CSZ tsunami, there are black dots. These paleoseismology sites are labeled (e.g. Humboldt Bay). Some submarine paleoseismology core sites are also shown as grey dots. The two main spreading ridges are not labeled, but the northern one is the Juan de Fuca ridge (where oceanic crust is formed for the Juan de Fuca plate) and the southern one is the Gorda rise (where the oceanic crust is formed for the Gorda plate).



Here is a map from Rollins and Stein, showing their interpretations of different historic earthquakes in the region. This was published in response to the January 2010 Gorda plate earthquake. The faults are from Chaytor et al. (2004). The 1980, 1992, 1994, 2005, and 2010 earthquakes are plotted and labeled. I did not mention the 2010 earthquake, but it most likely was just like 1980 and 2005, a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake on a northeast striking fault.


Here is a large scale map of the 1983 earthquake swarm. The mainshock epicenter is a black star and epicenters are denoted as white circles. Note how the aftershocks trend slightly southeast in this region. Today’s swarm does the same (and the moment tensor also shows a slightly southeast strike). Note how the interpreted fault dips slightly to the north, which is the result of north-south compression from the relative northward motion of the Pacific plate.


Here is a large scale map of the 1994 earthquake swarm. The mainshock epicenter is a black star and epicenters are denoted as white circles.


Here is a plot of focal mechanisms from the Dengler et al. (1995) paper in California Geology.


In this map below, I label a number of other significant earthquakes in this Mendocino triple junction region. Another historic right-lateral earthquake on the Mendocino fault system was in 1994. There was a series of earthquakes possibly along the easternmost section of the Mendocino fault system in late January 2015, here is my post about that earthquake series.


The Gorda and Juan de Fuca plates subduct beneath the North America plate to form the Cascadia subduction zone fault system. In 1992 there was a swarm of earthquakes with the magnitude Mw 7.2 Mainshock on 4/25. Initially this earthquake was interpreted to have been on the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ). The moment tensor shows a compressional mechanism. However the two largest aftershocks on 4/26/1992 (Mw 6.5 and Mw 6.7), had strike-slip moment tensors. These two aftershocks align on what may be the eastern extension of the Mendocino fault.

There have been several series of intra-plate earthquakes in the Gorda plate. Two main shocks that I plot of this type of earthquake are the 1980 (Mw 7.2) and 2005 (Mw 7.2) earthquakes. I place orange lines approximately where the faults are that ruptured in 1980 and 2005. These are also plotted in the Rollins and Stein (2010) figure above. The Gorda plate is being deformed due to compression between the Pacific plate to the south and the Juan de Fuca plate to the north. Due to this north-south compression, the plate is deforming internally so that normal faults that formed at the spreading center (the Gorda Rise) are reactivated as left-lateral strike-slip faults. In 2014, there was another swarm of left-lateral earthquakes in the Gorda plate. I posted some material about the Gorda plate setting on this page.

There are three types of earthquakes, strike-slip, compressional (reverse or thrust, depending upon the dip of the fault), and extensional (normal). Here is are some animations of these three types of earthquake faults. Many of the earthquakes people are familiar with in the Mendocino triple junction region are either compressional or strike slip. The following three animations are from IRIS.

Strike Slip:

Compressional:

Extensional:

This figure shows what a transform plate boundary fault is. Looking down from outer space, the crust on either side of the fault moves side-by-side. When one is standing on the ground, on one side of the fault, looking across the fault as it moves… If the crust on the other side of the fault moves to the right, the fault is a “right lateral” strike slip fault. The Mendocino and San Andreas faults are right-lateral (dextral) strike-slip faults.


    References:

  • Atwater, B.F., Musumi-Rokkaku, S., Satake, K., Tsuju, Y., Eueda, K., and Yamaguchi, D.K., 2005. The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America, USGS Professional Paper 1707, USGS, Reston, VA, 144 pp.
  • Chaytor, J.D., Goldfinger, C., Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G., 2004. Active deformation of the Gorda plate: Constraining deformation models with new geophysical data: Geology v. 32, p. 353-356.
  • Dengler, L.A., Moley, K.M., McPherson, R.C., Pasyanos, M., Dewey, J.W., and Murray, M., 1995. The September 1, 1994 Mendocino Fault Earthquake, California Geology, Marc/April 1995, p. 43-53.
  • Nelson, A.R., Asquith, A.C., and Grant, W.C., 2004. Great Earthquakes and Tsunamis of the Past 2000 Years at the Salmon River Estuary, Central Oregon Coast, USA: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 94, No. 4, pp. 1276–1292
  • Rollins, J.C. and Stein, R.S., 2010. Coulomb stress interactions among M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes in the Gorda deformation zone and on the Mendocino Fault Zone, Cascadia subduction zone, and northern San Andreas Fault: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 115, B12306, doi:10.1029/2009JB007117, 2010.

Earthquake Report: New Britain!

We just had an earthquake in the New Britain region of the equatorial Pacific. Here is the USGS website for this M 6.7 earthquake. This is a very interesting earthquake for this region because it is very deep.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake. This map shows the slab contours (an estimate of the subduction zone plate interface). These contours are estimated by Hayes et al., (2012). The hypocentral depth is 499.1 km, which is deeper than the slab depth according to Hayes et al. (2012), which is about 220 km. This earthquake is clearly in one of the downgoing slabs of this region. I include several figures below that present various interpretations of the different oceanic slabs in this region.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northwest-southeast tension. If this is due to slab tension, then the slab would be dipping to the northwest, or the southeast. This tension may also be due to some form of bending in the slab, but it is difficult to tell given these limited data. Most of the recent seismicity in this region is associated with convergence along the New Britain trench or the South Solomon trench.

    I include some inset figures.

  • In the top of the poster are two figures from Oregon State University, which are based upon Hamilton (1979). “Tectonic microplates of the Melanesian region. Arrows show net plate motion relative to the Australian Plate.” To the right of the map is a cross section showing how the Solomon Sea plate is subducting beneath New Britain. This is from Johnson, 1976.
  • In the lower left corner is another generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. This map shows the major plate boundary faults including the New Britain trench (NBT), one of the main culprits for recent seismicity of this region.
  • In the upper right corner are two figures from Holm and Richards (2013). The panel on the left shows (a) a plan view of the downgoing slab relative to islands in this region, (b) and (c) oblique views of the downgoing oceanic lithosphere of the Solomon Sea plate. Their paper discusses the back-arc spreading in the Bismarck Sea. They use hypocenter data to construct this 3-D model of the slab. On the right is a forecast of how the slab will be consumed along these subduction zones in the future.
  • In the lower right corner, I include a map that shows the Modified Mercalli Intensity Contours from this earthquake. I include this map further down on this page and have some explanations about what the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale is.


  • Here is the localized map that shows the MMI contours. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I have posted material about the recent and near recent (decadal) seismicity in the past:

  • Here is a post regarding the foreshocks. 2015.05.03
  • Here is a post summarizing the seismicity since 2000 AD. 2015.03.29
  • Here is a post comparing the New Britain region with the adjacent Bougainville region. 2015.03.30
  • This is a map showing the seismicity of this region since 2000 A.D.

  • Earlier, I discussed seismicity from 2000-2015 here. The seismicity on the west of this region appears aligned with north-south shortening along the New Britain trench, while seismicity on the east of this region appears aligned with more east-west shortening. Here is a map that I put together where I show these two tectonic domains with the seismicity from this time period (today’s earthquakes are not plotted on this map, but one may see where they might plot).

  • Here is the generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic setting and mineral deposits of eastern Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The modern arc setting related to formation of the mineral deposits comprises, from west to east, the West Bismarck arc, the New Britain arc, the Tabar-Lihir-Tanga-Feni Chain and the Solomon arc, associated with north-dipping subduction/underthrusting at the Ramu-Markham fault zone, New Britain trench and San Cristobal trench respectively. Arrows denote plate motion direction of the Australian and Pacific plates. Filled triangles denote active subduction. Outlined triangles denote slow or extinct subduction. NBP: North Bismarck plate; SBP: South Bismarck plate; AT: Adelbert Terrane; FT: Finisterre Terrane; RMF: Ramu-Markham fault zone; NBT: New Britain trench.

  • Here is the slab interpretation for the New Britain region from Holm and Richards, 2013. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • 3-D model of the Solomon slab comprising the subducted Solomon Sea plate, and associated crust of the Woodlark Basin and Australian plate subducted at the New Britain and San Cristobal trenches. Depth is in kilometres; the top surface of the slab is contoured at 20 km intervals from the Earth’s surface (black) to termination of slabrelated seismicity at approximately 550 km depth (light brown). Red line indicates the locations of the Ramu-Markham Fault (RMF)–New Britain trench (NBT)–San Cristobal trench (SCT); other major structures are removed for clarity; NB, New Britain; NI, New Ireland; SI, Solomon Islands; SS, Solomon Sea; TLTF, Tabar–Lihir–Tanga–Feni arc. See text for details.

  • Here are the forward models for the slab in the New Britain region from Holm and Richards, 2013. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Forward tectonic reconstruction of progressive arc collision and accretion of New Britain to the Papua New Guinea margin. (a) Schematic forward reconstruction of New Britain relative to Papua New Guinea assuming continued northward motion of the Australian plate and clockwise rotation of the South Bismarck plate. (b) Cross-sections illustrate a conceptual interpretation of collision between New Britain and Papua New Guinea.

  • This map shows plate velocities and euler poles for different blocks. Note the counterclockwise motion of the plate that underlies the Solomon Sea (Baldwin et al., 2012). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic maps of the New Guinea region. (a) Seismicity, volcanoes, and plate motion vectors. Plate motion vectors relative to the Australian plate are surface velocity models based on GPS data, fault slip rates, and earthquake focal mechanisms (UNAVCO, http://jules.unavco.org/Voyager/Earth). Earthquake data are sourced from the International Seismological Center EHB Bulletin (http://www.isc.ac.uk); data represent events from January 1994 through January 2009 with constrained focal depths. Background image is generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Abbreviations: AB, Arafura Basin; AT, Aure Trough; AyT, Ayu Trough; BA, Banda arc; BSSL, Bismarck Sea seismic lineation; BH, Bird’s Head; BT, Banda Trench; BTFZ, Bewani-Torricelli fault zone; DD, Dayman Dome; DEI, D’Entrecasteaux Islands; FP, Fly Platform; GOP, Gulf of Papua; HP, Huon peninsula; LA, Louisiade Archipelago; LFZ, Lowlands fault zone; MaT, Manus Trench; ML, Mt. Lamington; MT, Mt. Trafalgar; MuT, Mussau Trough; MV, Mt. Victory; MTB, Mamberamo thrust belt; MVF, Managalase Plateau volcanic field; NBT, New Britain Trench; NBA, New Britain arc; NF, Nubara fault; NGT, New Guinea Trench; OJP, Ontong Java Plateau; OSF, Owen Stanley fault zone; PFTB, Papuan fold-and-thrust belt; PP, Papuan peninsula; PRi, Pocklington Rise; PT, Pocklington Trough; RMF, Ramu-Markham fault; SST, South Solomons Trench; SA, Solomon arc; SFZ, Sorong fault zone; ST, Seram Trench; TFZ, Tarera-Aiduna fault zone; TJ, AUS-WDKPAC triple junction; TL, Tasman line; TT, Trobriand Trough;WD, Weber Deep;WB, Woodlark Basin;WFTB, Western (Irian) fold-and-thrust belt; WR,Woodlark Rift; WRi, Woodlark Rise; WTB, Weyland thrust; YFZ, Yapen fault zone.White box indicates the location shown in Figure 3. (b) Map of plates, microplates, and tectonic blocks and elements of the New Guinea region. Tectonic elements modified after Hill & Hall (2003). Abbreviations: ADB, Adelbert block; AOB, April ultramafics; AUS, Australian plate; BHB, Bird’s Head block; CM, Cyclops Mountains; CWB, Cendrawasih block; CAR, Caroline microplate; EMD, Ertsberg Mining District; FA, Finisterre arc; IOB, Irian ophiolite belt; KBB, Kubor & Bena blocks (including Bena Bena terrane); LFTB, Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt; MA, Mapenduma anticline; MB, Mamberamo Basin block; MO, Marum ophiolite belt; MHS, Manus hotspot; NBS, North Bismarck plate; NGH, New Guinea highlands block; NNG, Northern New Guinea block; OKT, Ok Tedi mining district; PAC, Pacific plate; PIC, Porgera intrusive complex; PSP, Philippine Sea plate; PUB, Papuan Ultramafic Belt ophiolite; SB, Sepik Basin block; SDB, Sunda block; SBS, South Bismarck plate; SIB, Solomon Islands block; WP, Wandamen peninsula; WDK, Woodlark microplate; YQ, Yeleme quarries.

  • This figure incorporates cross sections and map views of various parts of the regional tectonics (Baldwin et al., 2012). The New Britain region is in the map near the A and B sections. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Oblique block diagram of New Guinea from the northeast with schematic cross sections showing the present-day plate tectonic setting. Digital elevation model was generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Oceanic crust in tectonic cross sections is shown by thick black-and-white hatched lines, with arrows indicating active subduction; thick gray-and-white hatched lines indicate uncertain former subduction. Continental crust, transitional continental crust, and arc-related crust are shown without pattern. Representative geologic cross sections across parts of slices C and D are marked with transparent red ovals and within slices B and E are shown by dotted lines. (i ) Cross section of the Papuan peninsula and D’Entrecasteaux Islands modified from Little et al. (2011), showing the obducted ophiolite belt due to collision of the Australian (AUS) plate with an arc in the Paleogene, with later Pliocene extension and exhumation to form the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. (ii ) Cross section of the Papuan peninsula after Davies & Jaques (1984) shows the Papuan ophiolite thrust over metamorphic rocks of AUS margin affinity. (iii ) Across the Papuan mainland, the cross section after Crowhurst et al. (1996) shows the obducted Marum ophiolite and complex folding and thrusting due to collision of the Melanesian arc (the Adelbert, Finisterre, and Huon blocks) in the Late Miocene to recent. (iv) Across the Bird’s Head, the cross section after Bailly et al. (2009) illustrates deformation in the Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt as a result of Late Miocene–Early Pliocene northeast-southwest shortening, followed by Late Pliocene–Quaternary extension. Abbreviations as in Figure 2, in addition to NI, New Ireland; SI, Solomon Islands; SS, Solomon Sea; (U)HP, (ultra)high-pressure.

Earthquake Report: Equatorial Mid Atlantic Ridge

Between my trip to southern Oregon for a talk on Cascadia subduction zone earthquake and tsunami hazards and preparing for a talk on the tectonic contribution to sea-level rise, there were two earthquakes. The first one, which I will write about later, was a M 4.5 in northern California. The second earthquake was a M 7.1 along the Romanche fracture zone (RFZ), a transform plate boundary that offsets the Mid Atlantic Ridge (MAR). Here is the USGS webpage for this M 7.1 earthquake.

    There have been a number of M 7 earthquakes in this region in the past century and I have reported on some elsewhere along the MAR. Below are some Earthquake Reports for some of these earthquakes.

  • 2015.02.13 M 7.1
  • 2015.05.24 M 6.3
  • 2015.06.17 M 7.0

Below is my interpretive poster for this M 7.1 earthquake from yesterday morning (my time).

Below is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. Based upon the location of this earthquake along the RFZ, I interpret this to have been a right lateral strike-slip earthquake.

    I have included some inset figures.

  • In the upper right corner, I include a map that shows the detailed bathymetry (the shape of the sea floor) for this region from Bonatti et al. (2001). In the lower panel (A) one may observe how the RFZ offsets the MAR. Ages of the oceanic lithosphere is plotted in red letters with 0 Ma (mega annum) at the MAR on the right and 60 Ma just to the west of the MAR on the left. We can calculate the slip-rate on the RFZ by using these age data and the distance that the MAR has been offset. Note the scale in the lower right corner.
  • To the left of the Bonatti et al. (2001) map is a map that shows the age of the oceanic crust in Million Years B.P. (before present). The MAR is highlighted because it is of about zero age, so is shown as red (Müller et al., 2008).
  • In the lower left corner is a map that shows a revised interpretation of the timing and orientations of the initial breakup and formation of the MAR and the Atlantic Ocean from Torsvik et al. (2009)


  • Here is the Bonatti et al. (2001) figure from the interpretive poster above. I include the figure caption as a blockquote below.

  • A: Multibeam topography of Romanche region, showing north-south profiles where sampling was carried out. Black dots and red numbers indicate estimated age (in million years) of lithosphere south of Romanche Transform, assuming spreading half-rate of 17 mm/yr within present-day ridge and transform geometry. White dots indicate epicenters of teleseismically recorded 1970–1995 events (magnitude . 4). FZ is fracture zone. B: Topography and petrology at eastern intersection of Romanche Fracture Zone with Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Data were obtained during expeditions S-16, S-19, and G-96 (Bonatti et al., 1994, 1996). C: Location of A along Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

  • Here is the Müller et al. (2008) figure from the interpretive poster above.

  • Here is the Torsvik et al. (2009) figure from the interpretive poster above. I include the figure caption as a blockquote below.

  • General structural map of the South Atlantic Ocean draped on topographic/bathymetric map from GTOPO 30. Boundaries between the four segments (Equatorial, Central, South and Falkland) are shown by dotted lines (RFZ, Romanche Fracture Zone; FFZ, Florianopolis Fracture Zone; AFFZ, Agulhas– Falkland Fracture Zone). Aptian salt basins (orange), LIPs (P, Parana; E, Etendeka; Karroo, Sierra Leone Rise and Agulhas), Seaward Dipping Reflectors (SDRs, white) and active hotspots (F, Fernando; C, Cameroon; Tr, Trinidade; Sh, St Helena; T, Tristan; V, Vema; B, Bouvet (Meteor) are also shown. Of these hotspots, only Tristan (responsible for the Parana-Etendeka LIP and Rio Grande Rise–Walvis Ridge) is classically considered as a deep plume in the literature (see Torsvik et al. 2006). However, Bouvet (Meteor) possibly responsible for Agulhas, and Maud Rise (East Antarctica) and Madagascar Ridge volcanism could possibly also have a deep plume origin (Section 6). PG, Ponta Grossa Dyke System; PA, Paraguay Dyke system; FI, Falkland Islands.

Here are a couple Earthquake Report interpretive posters for earthquakes from the past couple of years.

Here is a map that shows the 2015.06.17 Mw 7.0 earthquake, as well as the 2015.05.24 M = 6.3 earthquake (which has a compressional moment tensor). This occurred along an unnamed fracture zone.

Here is a map that shows the fracture zones and recent (2015) seismicity to the north of the M 6.3 earthquake.

Earthquake Report: Burma!

Well, there was an earthquake about 6 hours ago in Burma. This M 6.8 earthquake was rather deep, which is good for the residents of that area (the ground motions diminish with distance from the earthquake hypocenter). Here is the USGS website for this earthquake. This M 6.8 earthquake is possibly soled in the convergent plate boundary thrust fault at the base of the Indo-Burmese Wedge (see maps below). While this M 6.8 earthquake probably won’t result in a large number of casualties, there are reports of damage to buildings and temples. Some live updates on damage in this area are posted here.

Below is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.


    I include some inset figures and maps. I also post some of these figures below, along with their original figure captions.

  • In the upper right corner I include the Rapid Assessment of an Earthquake’s Impact (PAGER) report. More on the PAGER program can be found here. An explanation of a PAGER report can be found here. PAGER reports are modeled estimates of damage. On the top is a histogram showing estimated casualties and on the right is an estimate of possible economic losses. This PAGER report suggests that there will be quite a bit of damage from this earthquake (and casualties).
  • In the lower right corner, is a map from Maurin and Rangin (2009) that shows the regional tectonics at a larger scale.
  • In the lower left corner is a map that shows an estimate of the ground motions from a hypothetical earthquake of this magnitude in this location. This shows the shaking intensity and uses the MMI scale mentioned above. The plot to the right shows the reported MMI intensity data as they relate to two plots of modeled estimates (the orange and green lines). These green dots are from the USGS “Did You Feel It?” reports compared to the estimates of ground shaking from Ground Motion Prediction Equation (GMPE) estimates. The relations between ground shaking and distance to an earthquake are also known as attenuation relations as the ground motions diminish (get attenuated) with distance from the earthquake.
  • In the upper left corner is a map from Wang et al. (2014) that shows even more details about the faulting in the Indo-Burmese Wedge (IBW) shown in the Maurin and Rangin (2009) map. To the right of this map is a cross section (c-c’ shown on the map) that shows an east-west transect of earthquake hypocenters (Wang et al., 2014).

Here is the Curray (2005) plate tectonic map.


Here is a map from Maurin and Rangin (2009) that shows the regional tectonics at a larger scale. They show how the Burma and Sunda plates are configured, along with the major plate boundary faults and tectonic features (ninetyeast ridge). The plate motion vectors for India vs Sunda (I/S) and India vs Burma (I/B) are shown in the middle of the map. Note the Sunda trench is a subduction zone, and the IBW is also a zone of convergence. There is still some debate about the sense of motion of the plate boundary between these two systems. This map shows it as strike slip, though there is evidence that this region slipped as a subduction zone (not strike-slip) during the 2004 Sumatra-Andaman subduction zone earthquake. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.


Structural fabric of the Bay of Bengal with its present kinematic setting. Shaded background is the gravity map from Sandwell and Smith [1997]. Fractures and magnetic anomalies in black color are from Desa et al.[2006]. Dashed black lines are inferred oceanic fracture zones which directions are deduced from Desa et al. in the Bay of Bengal and from the gravity map east of the 90E Ridge. We have flagged particularly the 90E and the 85E ridges (thick black lines). Gray arrow shows the Indo-Burmese Wedge (indicated as a white and blue hatched area) growth direction discussed in this paper. For kinematics, black arrows show the motion of the India Plate with respect to the Burma Plate and to the Sunda Plate (I/B and I/S, respectively). The Eurasia, Burma, and Sunda plates are represented in green, blue, and red, respectively.

Wang et al. (2014) also have a very detailed map showing historic earthquakes along the major fault systems in this region. They also interpret the plate boundary into different sections, with different ratios of convergence:shear. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.


Simplified neotectonic map of the Myanmar region. Black lines encompass the six neotectonic domains that we have defined. Green and Yellow dots show epicenters of the major twentieth century earthquakes (source: Engdahl and Villasenor [2002]). Green and yellow beach balls are focal mechanisms of significant modern earthquakes (source: GCMT database since 1976). Pink arrows show the relative plate motion between the Indian and Burma plates modified from several plate motion models [Kreemer et al., 2003a; Socquet et al., 2006; DeMets et al., 2010]. The major faults west of the eastern Himalayan syntax are adapted from Leloup et al. [1995] and Tapponnier et al. [2001]. Yellow triangle shows the uncertainty of Indian-Burma plate-motion direction.

Here is a map from Wang et al. (2014) that shows even more details about the faulting in the IBW. Today’s fault occurred nearby the CMf label. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below. Wang et al. (2014) found evidence for active faulting in the form of shutter ridges and an offset alluvial fan. Shutter ridges are mountain ridges that get offset during a strike-slip earthquake and look like window shutters. This geologic evidence is consistent with the moment tensor from today’s earthquake. There is a cross section (C-C’) that is plotted at about 22 degrees North (we can compare this with the Maurin and Rangin (2009) cross section if we like).


Figure 6. (a) Active faults and anticlines of the Dhaka domain superimposed on SRTM topography. Most of the active anticlines lie within 120 km of the deformation front. Red lines are structures that we interpret to be active. Black lines are structures that we consider to be inactive. CT = Comilla Tract. White boxes contain the dates and magnitudes of earthquakes mentioned in the text. CMf = Churachandpur-Mao fault; SM = St. Martin’s island antilcline; Da = Dakshin Nila anticline; M= Maheshkhali anticline; J = Jaldi anticline; P = Patiya anticline; Si = Sitakund anticline; SW= Sandwip anticline; L = Lalmai anticline; H = Habiganj anticline; R = Rashidpur anticline; F = Fenchunganj anticline; Ha = Hararganj anticline; Pa = Patharia anticline. (b) Profile from SRTM topography of Sandwip Island.

Here is the Wang et al. (2014) cross section. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.


Schematic cross sections through two domains of the northern Sunda megathrust show the geometry of the megathrust and hanging wall structures. Symbols as in Figure 18. (a) The megathrust along the Dhaka domain dips very shallowly and has secondary active thrust faults within 120 km of the deformation front. See Figures 2 and 6 for profile location.

Here is a different cross section that shows how they interpret this plate boundary to have an oblique sense of motion (it is a subduction zone with some strike slip motion). Typically, these different senses of motion would be partitioned into different fault systems (read about forearc sliver faults, like the Sumatra fault. I mention this in my report about the earthquakes in the Andaman Sea from 2015.07.02). This cross section is further to the south than the one on the interpretation map above. I include their figure caption as a blockquote below.


Present cross section based on industrial multichannel seismics and field observations. The seismicity from USGS catalog and Engdahl [2002] is represented as black dots. Focal mechanisms from Global CMT (http://www.globalcmt.org/CMTsearch.html) catalog are also represented.

    For the January 2016 earthquake, Jascha Polet made these two figures:

  • Here is a cross section that shows seismicity for this region. The earthquakes are plotted as focal mechanisms. This comes from Jacha Polet, Professor of Geophysics at Cal Poly Pomona.

  • Here is a map showing the seismicity and focal mechanisms, also from Jacha Polet.

Earthquake Report: Italy!

There was a M 6.2 earthquake in Italy tonight. Here is the USGS website for today’s earthquake. There is lots of information about the tectonics of this region. I can hardly do justice to all the people who have worked here. It seems like every route I take for more information, I get 10 more publications.

This earthquake is north of the region that had an M 6.3 earthquake in 2009 that led to an interesting (putting it nicely) interaction between scientists, public employees/politicians, and the legal system. Basically, several seismologists were sentenced to prison. More on this is found online, for example, here and here.

Below is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The tectonics of this region has many normal (extensional) faults, which explain the extensional moment tensor. However, I do not know enough of this region to interpret is this is an east or west dipping fault that ruptured (depends upon which side of which basin experience this earthquake; see below).

    I include some inset figures and maps.

  • In the upper right corner I include the Rapid Assessment of an Earthquake’s Impact (PAGER) report. More on the PAGER program can be found here. An explanation of a PAGER report can be found here. PAGER reports are modeled estimates of damage. On the top is a histogram showing estimated casualties and on the right is an estimate of possible economic losses. This PAGER report suggests that there will be quite a bit of damage from this earthquake (and casualties).
  • Below that I show the USGS plot of “Did You Feel It?” reports compared to the estimates of ground shaking from Ground Motion Prediction Equation (GMPE) estimates. The relations between ground shaking and distance to an earthquake are also known as attenuation relations as the ground motions diminish (get attenuated) with distance from the earthquake.
  • To the left of the PAGER report I include a basic tectonic map of this region. Maps with local (larger) scale have much more detailed views of the faulting.
  • In the lower left corner is a map showing a series of earthquake swarms that occurred between 1916 and 1920, rupturing across the Apennines in northern Italy. This is just to the north of tonight’s M 6.2 earthquake. It is interesting as Baize posted on twitter some accounts of this earthquake series on twitter yesterday. There is another map showing greater detail of the 1916 swarm.


I also plot a moment tensor from an earthquake in the western Mediterranean from 2016.01.24 in the above map. Here is my Earthquake Report for that seismicity and below is the map from that report.


In late 2015 (2015.11.17) there was a M 6.5 earthquake along a fault related to the terminus of the North Anatolian fault system in western Greece. Here is my earthquake report for that seismicity and below is my map from that report. Below this first map is another map that shows some aftershocks.


Here is an updated map that shows a couple more aftershocks, at a large (local) scale. I have included the moment tensors for the two largest aftershocks.


For more on the graphical representation of moment tensors and focal mechanisms, check this IRIS video out:

    Here are some observations made by others.

  • Susan Hough (USGS) asked people tonight what they thought about explaining why the “DYFI” reports seemed too small compared to the GMPE model predictions. So far, I am unsatisfied with the answers. Looking at the plot from the 2009 M 6.3 earthquake, the region’s low population density would not appear to explain this discrepancy. Perhaps it is because today’s earthquake happened at night time, so maybe people have not yet reported yet. Below I include these GMPE/DYFI plots for both 2016.08.24 M 6.2 and 2009.04.06 M 6.3 earthquakes. Interesting that the DYFI reports for the 2009 earthquake also have higher MMI values, in general, than the 2016 earthquake. The difference between a M 6.2 and > 6.3 earthquake is about 3 times (a M 6.3 releases about 3 times as much energy as a M 6.2 earthquake), but these maps seem much more different than that. I plot the DYFI maps below the attenuation plots.
  • 2016.08.24

  • 2009.04.06

  • 2016.08.24

  • 2009.04.06

  • David Schwartz (USGS) noted that tonight’s earthquake is “between the 1997 Assisi aftershock zone and the north end of the 2009 l’aquila rupture” and may be a “foreshock to a 1915-like Fucino rupture.” So we need to look at these two earthquakes to learn more about what Schwartz is talking about. Here is a web post about an INQUA workshop held in “Pescina, to commemorate the centenary of the 13/1/1915 M7 Fucino Earthquake.” This was posted by Stephanie Baize who is also on twitter. Follow him to learn more about tonight’s earthquake. There is a great paper that discusses the 1915 earthquake sequence that Schwartz was talking about here (Galadini and Galli, 1999). A more recent paper also discusses the faulting in this region (Palumbo et al., 2004).
    Here are some other maps that might help. (well, one so far)

  • This Billi et al. (2006) map shows some of these west dipping normal faults in central Italy, just south of the Apennines.

  • There are some excellent maps and figures from a study from 2004 (Boncio et al, 2004). This material was posted on twitter here.

Earthquake Report: Japan!

There continue to be earthquakes probably related to the 2011.03.11 Tohoku-Oki M 9.0 earthquake (the 4th largest earthquake recorded on modern seismologic instruments). Here are two excellent summary Earthquake Report pages associated with this region: The original Earthquake Report for the M 9.0 earthquake with some great animations!. A page where I present slip models, coulomb stress models, and aftershock location maps.

    Here are the USGS websites for the larger earthquakes plotted in my interpretive poster below.

  • 2016.08.20 09:01:26 UTC M 6.0
  • 2016.08.20 15:58:04 UTC M 6.0
  • 2016.08.20 16:10:34 UTC M 5.3
  • 2016.08.20 16:28:11 UTC M 5.3
    Here are some Earthquake Reports for seismicity associated with the M 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake.

  • 2011.03.11 M 9.0 Japan (Tohoku-Oki)
  • 2013.10.25 M 7.1 Japan (Honshu)
  • 2015.02.16 M 6.7 Japan (Sanriku Coast)
  • 2015.02.16 M 6.7 Japan (Sanriku Coast Update #1)
  • 2015.02.16 M 6.7 Japan (Sanriku Coast Update #2)
  • 2015.02.20 M 6.7 Japan (Sanriku Coast Update #3)
  • 2015.02.21 M 6.7 Japan (Sanriku Coast Update #4)
  • 2015.02.25 M 6.3 Japan (Sanriku Coast Update #5)

Here is my interpretive map that shows the epicenter, along with the shaking intensity contours. These contours use the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.

    I include some inset figures and maps.

  • In the upper right corner I include a map that shows seismicity before and after the M 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. Ammon et al. (2011) invert teleseismic P waves and broadband Raleigh waves with high-rate GPS data to constrain their slip model. Slip magnitude in meters is represented by shades of red. They also plot the source time function plot. Source time function plots show us the amount of energy that is released during an earthquake and how that energy release varies with time.
  • In the lower right corner I include a map that shows the seismicity in the region before and after the M 9.0 earthquake (Gusman et al., 2012).
  • In the lower left corner I include two figures from Ikuta et al. (2012). The upper panel shows how the 2011 slip region compares to slip from previous M 7 class earthquakes. The lower panel shows the slip deficit for this part of the subduction zone. Basically, this is a way of viewing how much plate convergence might be expected to contribute to earthquake slip over time.
  • In the upper left corner I include a figure from Lay et al. (2011) that shows the coulomb stress changes due to the 2011 earthquake. Basically, this shows which locations on the fault where we might expect higher likelihoods of future earthquake slip.


Here is a map (from this Earthquake Report page) showing the three largest magnitude earthquakes in this recent seismic swarm. Check out my previous post here to see other slip models, estimates of stress change due to the 2011 March 11 Tohoku-Oki earthquake, and how these relate to historic slip models.


    Below are some of the insets as individual figures. I include their original figure captions.

  • Here is a figure showing seismicity in the region of the Tohoku-Oki earthquake, the source time function of the M 9.0 earthquake, and their slip model (Ammon et al., 2011). There are dozens of slip models for the M 9.0 earthquake and they are all non unique. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Map showing foreshocks, aftershocks, MORVEL model plate motions, rupture-model slip contours, and the locations of hrGPS stations (inverted triangles) used in to construct the model. Focal mechanisms are shown at the GCMT centroid.

  • Here is another map showing the seismicity associated with the Tohoku-Oki earthquake (Gusman et al., 2012). I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Map of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. Red star represents the epicenter of the mainshock, rectangles represent the subfaults, gray circles represent fore-shocks and purple circles represent aftershocks and extensional faulting events in the outer-rise.

  • Here is a plot that shows how the 2011 slip region compares to slip from previous M 7 class earthquakes (Ikuta et al., 2012). Ikuta et al. (2012) discuss how regions surrounding the higher slip during the M 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake had experienced smaller earthquakes that consumed some of the plate motion strain, thereby owing to the lower slip in those regions during the M 9.0 earthquake. These are also regions that have increased coulomb stress and increased seismicity following the 2011.03.11 earthquake. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Co-seismic slip of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and previous M 7-class earthquakes around the source region. (a) Co-seismic slip distribution of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake (blue intensity scale, as in Figure 2); the area with slip greater than 10 m is enclosed by a white line. The two stars show the locations of the main shock and the largest after-shock (March 11, 2011). The asperity distribution for M7-class earthquakes occurring in the past 80 years is shown by colored contours (after Murotani et al. [2004], Yamanaka and Kikuchi [2004], and Y. Yamanaka (NGY Seismology Notebook, http:// www.seis.nagoya-u.ac.jp/sanchu/Seismo_Note, last updated April 11, 2011)). The contour for each asperity encloses the areas in which the slip is greater than half of the maximum slip. (b) Cumulative seismic slip distribution along the trench for the earthquakes shown in Figure 10a. The total length of each arrow represents the maximum slip of the event, and the body length of each arrow represents the average slip. Modified after Figure 12b in Yamanaka and Kikuchi [2004], with the addition of the R4 region (data for the earthquakes in 1938 and 1982 are from Murotani et al. [2004] and Mochizuki et al. [2008], respectively) and new earthquakes (Y. Yamanaka, NGY Seismology Notebook, http://www.seis.nagoya-u.ac. jp/sanchu/Seismo_Note, last updated April 11, 2011). Slips on spatially overlapping asperities are accumulated. It is known that at least three more M7-class earthquakes have occurred since 1930 around the focal area of the southernmost 1982 earthquake (in 1943, 1961, and 1965). Vertical dotted line shows the slip expected with slip-deficit accumulation over 80 years.

  • Here is a plot showing how the low seismic coupling in the regions surrounding the high slip from the M 9.0 earthquake affect the slip deficit. Basically, this is a way of viewing how much plate convergence might be expected to contribute to earthquake slip over time. In this case, we see how the smaller earthquakes took up some of the slip adjacent to the 2011 slip patch (think about where today’s swarm took place compared to the region that slipped in 2011). I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Schematic illustration of apparent low seismic coupling and small effective slip deficit controlled by a persistent strong asperity that ruptured to produce a M9-class earthquake. The vertical axis represents the subduction rate and the horizontal axis represents the distance from the strong asperity. The accumulation rate of the slip deficit is shown by the solid curve. Apparent seismic coupling before the M9-class earthquake is represented by the ratio of the co-seismic slip (length of the gray arrows) to the subduction rate. The seismic coupling, as monitored by the occurrence of M7-class earthquakes, is low in areas close to the strong asperity. When the persistent strong asperity slips, the remaining slip deficit (gray area) is released. Note that this figure does not show the accumulated slip deficit; instead, it shows the relative contributions of strong and weak asperities to the accumulation rate of the slip deficit.

  • Here is a figure that shows the coulomb stress changes due to the 2011 earthquake. Basically, this shows which locations on the fault where we might expect higher likelihoods of future earthquake slip. Note how many of the aftershocks, including today’s earthquake, are in the region of increased coulomb stress. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Maps of the Coulomb stress change predicted for the joint P wave, Rayleigh wave and continuous GPS inversion in Fig. 2. The margins of the latter fault model are indicated by the box. Two weeks of aftershock locations from the U.S. Geological Survey are superimposed, with symbol sizes scaled relative to seismic magnitude. (a) The Coulomb stress change averaged over depths of 10–15 km for normal faults with the same westward dipping fault plane geometry as the Mw 7.7 outer rise aftershock, for which the global centroid moment tensor mechanism is shown. (b) Similar stress changes for thrust faults with the same geometry as the mainshock, along with the Mw 7.9 thrusting aftershock to the south, for which the global centroid moment tensor is shown.

  • Here is a figure schematically showing how subduction zone earthquakes may increase coulomb stress along the outer rise. The outer rise is a region of the downgoing/subducting plate that is flexing upwards. There are commonly normal faults, sometimes reactivating fracture zone/strike-slip faults, caused by extension along the upper oceanic lithosphere. We call these bending moment normal faults. There was a M 7.1 earthquake on 2013.10.25 that appears to be along one of these faults. I include their figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Schematic cross-sections of the A) Sanriku-oki, B) Kuril and C) Miyagi-oki subduction zones where great interplate thrust events have been followed by great trench slope or outer rise extensional events (in the first two cases) and concern about that happening in the case of the 2011 event.

    Here are some animations from the ARIA Project at Caltech/JPL. These document geodetic motion during the Tohoku-Oki Earthquake.


    Beginning with a description of the animations in blockquote.

    We show 2 videos on Japan’s movement over the 35 minutes following the initiation of the Tohoku-Oki (M 9.0). These images are made possible because of the density of GPS stations in Japan (about 1200 GPS stations, or a GPS station every ~30 km). The preliminary GPS displacement data that these animations are based on are provided by the ARIA team at JPL and Caltech. All Original GEONET RINEX data provided to Caltech by the Geospatial Information Authority (GSI) of Japan.

  • a) ARIA_GPSDisplacement:
  • This animation shows the cumulative displacements of the GPS stations relative to their position before the M9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. The colors show the magnitude of displacement and the arrows indicate direction. We observe 2 kinds of motions, a permanent deformation in the vicinity of the earthquake (first red star) intermediately followed by a perturbation that travels about ~4 km/sec which are the surface waves generated by the earthquake.

  • Here is the file for direct download. (18 MB mp4)
  • b) ARIA_GPSvelocity:
  • This animation shows the estimated instantaneous velocities of the GPS stations. In this view, we only observe the transient motion caused by the earthquake. The first waves to propagate from the mainshock (red star) are the body waves (P and S) but they can be barely seen (look for a slight purple perturbation). These are followed by the surface waves (Love and Rayleigh) propagating as 2 orange-red stripes, as surface waves generate larger velocities at the surface than the body waves. At about 25 minutes there is a subtle signal from seismic waves generated by a small aftershock in northern Japan. At around 30 minutes we observe the seismic waves from a M7.9 aftershock (smaller red star), the largest aftershock to date. Since this event is about 30 times smaller than the mainshock, the P and S waves from this earthquake are too small to be detected with these rapid GPS solutions, but we can observe the surface waves. The small patches of color that appear randomly across Japan show the noise level of the measurements and are not related to any significant ground motion.

  • Here is the file for direct download. (6 MB mp4)
  • b) ARIA_GPSDisplacement_composite:
  • Here is the file for direct download. (6 MB mp4)
  • Here are some maps that are static results displayed in the above animations.
  • Coseismic Horizontal:

  • Coseismic Vertical:

Here is the usgs map for the region:


M7.3 Honshu