ABSTRACT

On 16 September 2015, the Mw 8.3 Illapel, Chile, earthquake broke a large area of the Coquimbo region of north‐central Chile. This area was well surveyed by more than 15 high‐rate Global Positioning System (GPS) instruments, installed starting in 2004, and by the new national seismological network deployed in Chile. Previous studies had shown that the Coquimbo region near Illapel was coupled to about 60%. After the Mw 8.8 Maule megathrust earthquake of 27 February 2010, we observed a large‐scale postseismic deformation, which resulted in a strain rate increase of about 15% in the region of Illapel. This observation agrees with our modeling of viscous relaxation after the Maule earthquake. The area where upper‐plate GPS velocity increased coincides very well with the slip distribution of the Illapel earthquake inverted from GPS measurements of coseismic displacement. The mainshock started with a small‐amplitude nucleation phase that lasted 20 s. Backprojection of seismograms recorded in North America confirms the extent of the rupture, determined from local observations, and indicates a strong directivity from deeper to shallower rupture areas. The coseismic displacement shows an elliptical slip distribution of about 200  km×100  km with a localized zone where the rupture is deeper near 31.3° S. This distribution is consistent with the uplift observed in some GPS sites and inferred from field observations of bleached coralline algae in the Illapel coastal area. Most of aftershocks relocated in this study were interplate events, although some of the events deeper than 50 km occurred inside the Nazca plate and had tension (slab‐pull) mechanisms. The majority of the aftershocks were located outside the 5 m contour line of the inferred slip distribution of the mainshock.

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