ABSTRACT

Subduction processes at convergent margins produce complex temporal and spatial crustal displacements during different periods of the earthquake cycle. Satellite geodesy observations provide important clues to constrain kinematic models at subduction zones. Here, we analyze geodetic observations in central Chile, where two large earthquakes occurred: 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule and 2015 Mw 8.3 Illapel. We propose a model that considers the motion along both interfaces of the brittle subducting slab as the sources responsible for the movement of the crust in the different periods of the earthquake cycle. Using standard inversion techniques, we provide a consistent framework of the kinematic displacement during each period of the earthquake cycle. We show that during the interseismic period prior to the Maule and Illapel earthquakes, two patches of slip rate on the lower interface are determined. These patches are located just below the future hypocenters. Because the interseismic period corresponds to the loading process and the coseismic to the unloading process, it is interesting to note that the area where loading is stronger corresponds to the area where unloading is also strong. Furthermore, we show that the Maule earthquake causes a significant displacement on the lower interface, just below the epicenter of the future Illapel earthquake to the north, a few years later. We speculate that the interaction between motions along both interfaces is the key to understanding the evolution of stress and the occurrence of earthquakes at subduction zones. This framework improves the understanding of the observed loading and unloading processes and potential triggering between subduction earthquakes.

You do not currently have access to this article.