Abstract

Great earthquakes rarely occur within active accretionary prisms, despite the intense long‐term deformation associated with the formation of these geologic structures. This paucity of earthquakes is often attributed to partitioning of deformation across multiple structures as well as aseismic deformation within and at the base of the prism (Davis et al., 1983). We use teleseismic data and satellite optical and radar imaging of the 2013 Mw 7.7 earthquake that occurred on the southeastern edge of the Makran plate boundary zone to study this unexpected earthquake. We first compute a multiple point‐source solution from W‐phase waveforms to estimate fault geometry and rupture duration and timing. We then derive the distribution of subsurface fault slip from geodetic coseismic offsets. We sample for the slip posterior probability density function using a Bayesian approach, including a full description of the data covariance and accounting for errors in the elastic structure of the crust. The rupture nucleated on a subvertical segment, branching out of the Chaman fault system, and grew into a major earthquake along a 50° north‐dipping thrust fault with significant along‐strike curvature. Fault slip propagated at an average speed of 3.0  km/s for about 180 km and is concentrated in the top 10 km with no displacement on the underlying décollement. This earthquake does not exhibit significant slip deficit near the surface, nor is there significant segmentation of the rupture. We propose that complex interaction between the subduction accommodating the Arabia–Eurasia convergence to the south and the Ornach Nal fault plate boundary between India and Eurasia resulted in the significant strain gradient observed prior to this earthquake. Convergence in this region is accommodated both along the subduction megathrust and as internal deformation of the accretionary wedge.

Online Material: Figures showing waveform fits, focal mechanism, root mean square misfit, variation of the shear modulus, covariance functions, and model predictions.

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