Aftershock seismicity of the 27 February 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule earthquake rupture zone

Dietrich Lange, Frederik Tilmann, Sergio E. Barrientos, Eduardo Contreras-Reyes, Pascal Methe, Marcos Moreno, Ben Heit, Hans Agurto, Pascal Bernard, Jean Pierre Vilotte, Susan Beck

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On 27 February 2010 the M w 8.8 Maule earthquake in Central Chile ruptured a seismic gap where significant strain had accumulated since 1835. Shortly after the mainshock a dense network of temporary seismic stations was installed along the whole rupture zone in order to capture the aftershock activity. Here, we present the aftershock distribution and first motion polarity focal mechanisms based on automatic detection algorithms and picking engines. By processing the seismic data between 15 March and 30 September 2010 from stations from IRIS, IPGP, GFZ and University of Liverpool we determined 20,205 hypocentres with magnitudes M w between 1 and 5.5. Seismic activity occurs in six groups: 1.) Normal faulting outer rise events 2.) A shallow group of plate interface seismicity apparent at 25-35km depth and 50-120km distance to the trench with some variations between profiles. Along strike, the aftershocks occur largely within the zone of coseismic slip but extend ~50km further north, and with predominantly shallowly dipping thrust mechanisms. Along dip, the events are either within the zone of coseismic slip, or downdip from it, depending on the coseismic slip model used. 3.) A third band of seismicity is observed further downdip at 40-50km depth and further inland at 150-160km trench perpendicular distance, with mostly shallow dipping (~28°) thrust focal mechanisms indicating rupture of the plate interface significantly downdip of the coseismic rupture, and presumably above the intersection of the continental Moho with the plate interface. 4.) A deep group of intermediate depth events between 80 and 120km depth is present north of 36°S. Within the Maule segment, a large portion of events during the inter-seismic phase originated from this depth range. 5.) The magmatic arc exhibits a small amount of crustal seismicity but does not appear to show significantly enhanced activity after the M w 8.8 Maule 2010 earthquake. 6.) Pronounced crustal aftershock activity with mainly normal faulting mechanisms is found in the region of Pichilemu (~34.5°S). These crustal events occur in a ~30km wide region with sharp inclined boundaries and oriented oblique to the trench. The best-located events describe a plane dipping to the southwest, consistent with one of the focal planes of the large normal-faulting aftershock (M w=6.9) on 11 March 2010.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-425
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


  • Aftershock distribution
  • Central Chile
  • Local seismicity
  • Maule 2010 earthquake
  • Seismogenic zone
  • Subduction zone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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