Slip distribution of the 2014 MW = 8.1 Pisagua, northern Chile, earthquake sequence estimated from coseismic fore-arc surface cracks

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John P. Loveless (1), Chelsea P. Scott(2), Richard W. Allmendinger (2), Gabriel González (4)


The 2014 MW = 8.1 Iquique (Pisagua), Chile earthquake sequence ruptured a segment of the Nazca-South America subduction zone that last hosted a great earthquake in 1877. The sequence opened >3,700 surface cracks in the fore arc of decameter-scale length and millimeter-to centimeter-scale aperture. We use the strikes of measured cracks, inferred to be perpendicular to coseismically applied tension, to estimate the slip distribution of the mainshock and largest aftershock. The slip estimates are compatible with those based on seismic, geodetic, and tsunami data, indicating that geologic observations can also place quantitative constraints on rupture properties. The earthquake sequence ruptured between two asperities inferred from a regional-scale distribution of surface cracks, interpreted to represent a modal or most common rupture scenario for the northern Chile subduction zone. We suggest that past events, including the 1877 earthquake, broke the 2014 Pisagua source area together with adjacent sections in a through-going rupture.

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(1) Department of Geosciences, Smith College, Northampton, MA, USA
(2) Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA
(3) Departamento de Ciencias Geológicas, Universidad Católica del Norte, Antofagasta, Chile
Centro Nacional de Investigación para la Gestión Integrada de Desastres Naturales, Antofagasta, Chile