Abstract

An earthquake swarm took place from 27 August 2013 to December 2013 in the southern Basin and Range province of Chihuahua, Mexico. During this period, the Seismological Service of Mexico located approximately 60 earthquakes in the region. The largest earthquake took place on 21 September 2013 (Mw 5.3). A temporary seismic network was installed in the area for a period of two weeks. The hypocenters were relocated using the double‐difference algorithm. The results show a cluster of seismicity along the Vallecillo fault, where most of the seismicity took place, and on the Peñasco fault. These two faults lie within the foothills of the sierras of the same name that bound the El Caballo desert basin. The seismicity suggests that both faults bounding the El Caballo basin slipped during the swarm. The main event of 27 August 2013 apparently took place on the Vallecillo fault. A third cluster of seismicity was located on Sierra La Mezcalera, about 20 km to the south of the Vallecillo fault, at the western end of the La Boquilla dam. Focal mechanisms of the larger events indicate right‐lateral slip with extensional deformation on the Vallecillo fault, with T axes oriented in a northeast–southwest direction. These source mechanisms reflect a regime of extensional tectonics in the southern Basin and Range province. The Vallecillo and Peñasco fault system is exposed for approximately 12 km along strike. Scaling relations suggest that earthquakes as large as Mw 6.4 may take place on them. This magnitude is similar to that of the 1928 Parral earthquake that occurred about 125 km to the south of the swarm. However, segmented faults may rupture sequentially and generate a larger earthquake than the one predicted on the basis of the length of individual mapped faults.

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