Geodetic observations of an earthquake cycle at the Sumatra subduction zone: Role of interseismic strain segmentation

Prawirodirdjo, L, McCaffrey R, Chadwell CD, Bock Y, Subarya C.  2010.  Geodetic observations of an earthquake cycle at the Sumatra subduction zone: Role of interseismic strain segmentation. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 115

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andaman earthquake, global positioning system, gps measurements, half-space, internal deformation, Islands, nias-simeulue earthquake, nicobar, plate convergence, rupture, tensile faults


We use survey mode and continuous GPS data from 1991 to 2007 to examine fault segmentation in the earthquake cycle at the Sumatra megathrust, site of the 26 December 2004 M(w) 9.1 Sumatra-Andaman, the 28 March 2005 M(w) 8.7 Nias-Simeulue, and the 12 September 2007 M(w) 8.4 Mentawai earthquakes. These data, including new observations from 2006 and 2007, allow us to observe the final few years of one earthquake cycle and the beginning of the next. Our analysis reveals that the megathrust is segmented, a characteristic that may persist through multiple earthquake cycles. The Nias-Simeulue earthquake ruptured approximately the same region that broke in 1861, a 300 km long segment abutting the Sumatra-Andaman rupture zone. Farther southeast, the Mentawai segment of the megathrust (0.5 degrees S-5 degrees S), which produced M > 8 earthquakes in 1797 and 1833, is fully locked in the interseismic period but is flanked by two freely slipping regions, the Batu Islands in the NW and Enggano in the SE. The 12 September 2007 Mentawai earthquake sequence ruptured only the southern one third of the 1833 rupture zone. We model postseismic deformation from the Sumatra-Andaman and Nias-Simeulue earthquakes and find that afterslip was concentrated updip and downdip, respectively, from the main shocks. Comparing the velocity fields before and after 2001, we find the subduction zone underneath the Batu Islands and Enggano, which, prior to the earthquakes, was partially to fully coupled, appears now to be slipping freely. Thus, while the segmentation of the subduction zone is preserved, interseismic coupling on the subduction fault may vary with time.






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