Abstract

Geophysical information, including deep-crustal seismic reflection, magnetotelluric (mt), gravity, and magnetic data, cross the aftershock zone of the 3 November 2002 Mw 7.9 Denali fault earthquake. These data and aftershock seismicity, jointly interpreted, reveal the crustal structure of the right-lateral-slip Denali fault and the eastern Alaska Range orogen, as well as the relationship between this structure and seismicity. North of the Denali fault, strong seismic reflections from within the Alaska Range orogen show features that dip as steeply as 25° north and extend downward to depths between 20 and 25 km. These reflections reveal crustal structures, probably ductile shear zones, that most likely formed during the Late Cretaceous, but these structures appear to be inactive, having produced little seismicity during the past 20 years. Furthermore, seismic reflections mainly dip north, whereas alignments in aftershock hypocenters dip south. The Denali fault is nonreflective, but modeling of mt, gravity, and magnetic data suggests that the Denali fault dips steeply to vertically. However, in an alternative structural model, the Denali fault is defined by one of the reflection bands that dips to the north and flattens into the middle crust of the Alaska Range orogen. Modeling of mt data indicates a rock body, having low electrical resistivity (>10 Ω·m), that lies mainly at depths greater than 10 km, directly beneath aftershocks of the Denali fault earthquake. The maximum depth of aftershocks along the Denali fault is 10 km. This shallow depth may arise from a higher-than-normal geothermal gradient. Alternatively, the low electrical resistivity of deep rocks along the Denali fault may be associated with fluids that have weakened the lower crust and helped determine the depth extent of the aftershock zone.

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