Geometry and brittle deformation of the subducting Nazca Plate, Central Chile and Argentina

Megan Anderson, Patricia Alvarado, George Zandt, Susan Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

144 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use data from the Chile Argentina Geophysical Experiment (CHARGE) broad-band seismic deployment to refine past observations of the geometry and deformation within the subducting slab in the South American subduction zone between 30°S and 36°S. This region contains a zone of flat slab subduction where the subducting Nazca Plate flattens at a depth of ∼100 km and extends ∼300 km eastward before continuing its descent into the mantle. We use a grid-search multiple-event earthquake relocation technique to relocate 1098 events within the subducting slab and generate contours of the Wadati-Benioff zone. These contours reflect slab geometries from previous studies of intermediate-depth seismicity in this region with some small but important deviations. Our hypocentres indicate that the shallowest portion of the flat slab is associated with the inferred location of the subducting Juan Fernández Ridge at 31°S and that the slab deepens both to the south and the north of this region. We have also determined first motion focal mechanisms for ∼180 of the slab earthquakes. The subhorizontal T-axis solutions for these events are almost entirely consistent with a slab pull interpretation, especially when compared to our newly inferred slab geometry. Deviations of T-axes from the direction of slab dip may be explained with a gap within the subducting slab below 150 km in the vicinity of the transition from flat to normal subducting geometry around 33°S.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-434
Number of pages16
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume171
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007

Keywords

  • Aseismic ridge
  • Earthquake location
  • Earthquake-source mechanism
  • Nazca Plate
  • Seismotectonics
  • Subduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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