Journal of Seismology

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 3–14 | Cite as

The February 1996 earthquake sequence in the eastern Pyrenees: first results

  • A. Rigo
  • A. Souriau
  • H. Pauchet
  • A. Grésillaud
  • M. Nicolas
  • C. Olivera
  • S. Figueras


An earthquake with local magnitude (ML) 5.2 occurred February 18, 1996 in the eastern Pyrenees (France) near the town of Saint-Paul de Fenouillet. This event is the first of this magnitude in France to be well recorded instrumentally. Less than 24 hours after the main shock, we installed a temporary network of 30 seismological stations in the epicentral area to record the aftershock sequence. In this paper, we analyse the main shock and present the 37 largest aftershocks (1.8 ≤ Ml ≤ 3.4) in the two months following the main shock. These events are located using data from the permanent Pyrenean seismological network and the temporary network when available. We also determined eight fault plane solutions using the P-wave first motions. The main shock and the aftershocks are located inside the small Agly massif. This Hercynian structure sits some 8 km north of the North Pyrenean Fault, which is usually considered to be the suture between the Iberian and Eurasian plates. The mechanism of the main shock is a left-lateral strike-slip on an E–W trending fault. The fault plane solutions of the aftershocks are mostly E–W striking reverse faults, in agreement with the general north-south shortening of the Pyrenees. The aftershocks located down to 11 km depth, indicating that the Agly massif is deeply fractured. The main interpretations of these results are: (i) The main shock involved an E–W trending fault inside the highly fractured Agly massif, relaying the North Pyrenean Fault which had, at least in the last 35 years, a poor seismic activity along this segment; (ii) The Saint-Paul de Fenouillet syncline to the north and the North Pyrenean Fault to the south delimit a ∼15 km wide senestral shear zone. Such a structure is also suggested by the highly fractured pattern of the Agly massif and by small en echelon faults and secondary folds in the Saint-Paul de Fenouillet syncline; (iii) we suggest that the North Pyrenean Frontal Thrust, located less than 10 km north of the Agly massif, has a ramp geometry at depth below the Agly massif.


Main Shock Eurasian Plate Aftershock Sequence Epicentral Area Temporary Network 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Rigo
    • 1
  • A. Souriau
    • 1
  • H. Pauchet
    • 1
  • A. Grésillaud
    • 1
  • M. Nicolas
    • 2
  • C. Olivera
    • 3
  • S. Figueras
    • 3
  1. 1.Observatoire Midi-PyrénéesGRGS – CNRS UMR 5562ToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Détection et de GéophysiqueCEA, B.P. 12Bruyères-le-ChâtelFrance
  3. 3.Institut Cartogràfic de CatalunyaServei Geològic de Catalunya, Parc de MontjuïcBarcelonaSpain

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