Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

2010 Chilean earthquake causes icequakes in Antarctica

Date:
August 10, 2014
Source:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Summary:
In March of 2010, the ice sheets in Antarctica vibrated a bit more than usual because of something more than 3,000 miles away: the 8.8-magnitude Chilean earthquake. A new study is the first to indicate that Antarctica's frozen ground is sensitive to seismic waves from distant earthquakes. Some of the icequakes were quick bursts and over in less than one second. Others were long duration, tremor-like signals up to 10 seconds. They occurred in various parts of the continent, including seismic stations along the coast and near the South Pole.

The HOWD Polenet seismic station is located near the northwest corner of the Antarctica's Ellsworth Mountains. It was the station that showed the clearest indication of high-frequency signals following the 2010 Chilean earthquake.
Credit: Eric Kendrick/Ohio State University

Seismic events aren't rare occurrences on Antarctica, where sections of the frozen desert can experience hundreds of micro-earthquakes an hour due to ice deformation. Some scientists call them icequakes. But in March of 2010, the ice sheets in Antarctica vibrated a bit more than usual because of something more than 3,000 miles away: the 8.8-magnitude Chilean earthquake. A new Georgia Institute of Technology study published in Nature Geoscience is the first to indicate that Antarctica's frozen ground is sensitive to seismic waves from distant earthquakes.

Related Articles


To study the quake's impact on Antarctica, the Georgia Tech team looked at seismic data from 42 stations in the six hours before and after the 3:34 a.m. event. The researchers used the same technology that allowed them to "hear" the seismic response at large distances for the devastating 2011 magnitude 9 Japan earthquake as it rumbled through Earth. In other words, they simply removed the longer-period signals as the seismic waves spread from the distant epicenter to identify high-frequency signals from nearby sources. Nearly 30 percent (12 of the 42 stations) showed clear evidence of high-frequency seismic signals as the surface-wave arrived on Antarctica.

"We interpret these events as small icequakes, most of which were triggered during or immediately after the passing of long-period Rayleigh waves generated from the Chilean mainshock," said Zhigang Peng, an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences who led the study. "This is somewhat different from the micro-earthquakes and tremor caused by both Love and Rayleigh-type surface waves that traditionally occur in other tectonically active regions thousands of miles from large earthquakes.

Peng says the subtle difference is that micro-earthquakes respond to both shearing and volumetric deformation from distant events. The newly found icequakes respond only to volumetric deformation.

"Such differences may be subtle, but they tell us that the mechanism of these triggered icequakes and small earthquakes are different," Peng added. "One is more like cracking, while the other is like a shear slip event. It's similar to two hands passing each other."

Some of the icequakes were quick bursts and over in less than one second. Others were long duration, tremor-like signals up to 10 seconds. They occurred in various parts of the continent, including seismic stations along the coast and near the South Pole.

The researchers found the clearest indication of induced high-frequency signals at station HOWD near the northwest corner of the Ellsworth Mountains. Short bursts occurred when the P wave hit the station, then continued again when the Rayleigh wave arrived. The triggered icequakes had very similar high waveform patterns, which indicates repeated failure at a single location, possibly by the opening of cracks.

Peng says the source locations of the icequakes are difficult to determine because there isn't an extensive seismic network coverage in Antarctica.

"But at least some of the icequakes themselves create surface waves, so they are probably formed very close to the ice surface," he added. "While we cannot be certain, we suspect they simply reflect fracturing of ice in the near surface due to alternating volumetric compressions and expansions as the Rayleigh waves passed through Antarctica's frozen ice."

Antarctica was originally not on the research team's target list. While examining seismic stations in the Southern Hemisphere, Peng "accidently" found the triggered icequakes at a few openly available stations. He and former Georgia Tech postdoctoral student Jake Walter (now a research scientist at the Institute for Geophysics at UT Austin) then reached out to other seismologists (the paper's four co-authors) who were in charge of deploying more broadband seismometers in Antarctica.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Georgia Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Zhigang Peng, Jacob I. Walter, Richard C. Aster, Andrew Nyblade, Douglas A. Wiens, Sridhar Anandakrishnan. Antarctic icequakes triggered by the 2010 Maule earthquake in Chile. Nature Geoscience, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2212

Cite This Page:

Georgia Institute of Technology. "2010 Chilean earthquake causes icequakes in Antarctica." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810214206.htm>.
Georgia Institute of Technology. (2014, August 10). 2010 Chilean earthquake causes icequakes in Antarctica. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810214206.htm
Georgia Institute of Technology. "2010 Chilean earthquake causes icequakes in Antarctica." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140810214206.htm (accessed November 28, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, November 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Scientists Find Invisible Space Shield Protecting Earth

Newsy (Nov. 27, 2014) — An invisible barrier is keeping dangerous super fast electrons from interfering with our atmosphere, but scientists aren't entirely sure how. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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