Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tectonic zip: Predictable events of the February 2010 earthquake in Chile

Date:
September 9, 2010
Source:
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Summary:
The complex fracture pattern created by the earthquake in Concepción (Chile) on February 27, 2010 was to a certain extent predictable. GPS observations from the years before the earthquake showed the pattern of stresses that had accumulated through the plate movements during the past 175 years in this area.

Installation of a Creepmeter of the Plate-Boundary Observatory Chile, which measures tektonic motions to a hundredth of a millimeter along a fault zone.
Credit: Copyright GFZ

The complex fracture pattern created by the earthquake in Concepción (Chile) on February 27, 2010 was to a certain extent predictable. GPS observations from the years before the earthquake showed the pattern of stresses that had accumulated through the plate movements during the past 175 years in this area.

The stress distribution derived from the observations correlates highly with the subsequent fracture distribution. In all likelihood the tremor removed all the stress that had accumulated since the last earthquake in this region, which was observed by Charles Darwin in 1835. An earthquake of similar magnitude in this area is therefore unlikely in the near future. This result was presented by scientists of the GFZ German Centre for Geosciences (Helmholtz Association) in the latest edition of the scientific journal Nature.

"The Maule earthquake near Concepción, Chile, on February 27 registered with a momentum magnitude of 8.8, makes it one of the largest earthquakes to have been recorded in its entirety via a modern network of space-geodetic and geophysical instruments on the ground," says Professor Onno Oncken, head of the Geodynamics Department at GFZ. "It thus offers a unique opportunity to compare detailed observations prior to the earthquake with those taken during and after it, and to re-evaluate hypotheses regarding the predictability of such events."

Measurements using the satellite navigation system GPS showed that the seafloor of the Nazca plate in the Pacific Ocean does not slide evenly under the western boundary of the South American continent. Rather, it appears from the GPS measurements that some parts of the ocean floor got locked with the subsurface of the continent. In the gaps, however, the Nazca plate continued to push under South America. The resulting uneven stress pattern was released by the Feb. 27 earthquake in such a way that, just like a zipper, the locked patches were ruptured one after the other. As a result, this seismic gap off the Chilean west coast is now closed, one last gap remains in northern Chile. Here, the GFZ scientists set up a plate boundary observatory, in order to make use of the entire range of geoscientific instruments to record the conditions before, during and after an earthquake -- an important step in understanding the processes of plate tectonics.

Modern Earth science may still not be able to predict the location, time and magnitude of an earthquake. But the present study offers an optimistic perspective concerning the predictability of possible fracture patterns and magnitudes of expected earthquakes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Marcos Moreno, Matthias Rosenau, Onno Oncken. 2010 Maule earthquake slip correlates with pre-seismic locking of Andean subduction zone. Nature, 2010; 467 (7312): 198 DOI: 10.1038/nature09349

Cite This Page:

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. "Tectonic zip: Predictable events of the February 2010 earthquake in Chile." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100909074007.htm>.
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. (2010, September 9). Tectonic zip: Predictable events of the February 2010 earthquake in Chile. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100909074007.htm
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences. "Tectonic zip: Predictable events of the February 2010 earthquake in Chile." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100909074007.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) — Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) — British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

The Walking, Talking Oil-Drigging Rig

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 15, 2014) — Pennsylvania-based Schramm is incorporating modern technology in its next generation oil-drigging rigs, making them smaller, safer and smarter. Ernest Scheyder reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

In Washington, a Push to Sterilize Stray Cats

AFP (Apr. 14, 2014) — To curb the growing numbers of feral cats in the US capital, the Washington Humane Society is encouraging residents to set traps and bring the animals to a sterilization clinic, after which they are released.. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins