On the Origin of Postseismic Deformation Processes in the Region of the Maule, Chile Earthquake of February 27, 2010

Abstract—For the first time, we present a rupture surface model of the 2010 Maule earthquake, Chile, based on the combination of satellite geodesy, InSAR, and satellite gravimetry data. The regularization method used for constructing the model allowed us to find a uniform displacement field on rupture surface provided that a slip rake is close to a given one. On average, the displacements on the rupture surface are about 5 m with a maximum displacement of 13.1 m. The rupture zone extends south of the Arauco Peninsula and reaches a depth of 42 km along the plate surface. Using the constructed seismic rupture model, we have modeled the process of viscoelastic relaxation of stresses that emerged in the lithosphere and upper mantle as a result of the earthquake in order to estimate the contribution of this process in the observed postseismic displacements. Surface displacement velocities mainly depend on the viscosity value adopted for the asthenosphere. The comparison of the calculated and measured displacements at low viscosity of the asthenosphere shows that when the displacements are measured far from rupture surface as it is the case with the ocean–ocean subduction zone earthquakes, the observed displacements can be explained by the process of viscoelastic relaxation with a low viscosity of the asthenosphere. In the cases when there are data on the displacements above rupture surface, e.g., for the 2010 Maule earthquake, explaining the observed displacements by stress relaxation process in the near zone of the rupture is not possible at any viscosity: the displacements substantially differ both in amplitude and direction. At the same time, the postseismic creep models fairly well agree with the entire set of the existing data. Therefore, there is no need to accept the hypothesis of a low-viscous asthenosphere in the region of the 2010 Maule earthquake. Previously, we arrived at the similar conclusion considering the modeling results for the Sumatran earthquake of 2004, Simushir earthquakes of 2006, and a number of other large earthquakes in the subduction zones.

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We are grateful to F. Pollitz for providing the Static1D and Visco1D software. The GRACE satellite gravity models of the Center for Space Research, University of Texas, USA, are accessed at http://icgem.gfz-potsdam.de/series. We are grateful to X. Tong and D. Sandwell for the displacement data calculated from ALOS-1 satellite measurements and uploaded to the supersite http://supersites.unavco.org/chile.php.


The development of the regularization method for inverse problem solution and the filters used for comparing the measured gravity anomalies with the anomalies calculated from GRACE gravity models was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation under project no. 14.W03.31.0033 “Geophysical research, monitoring, and forecast of the development of catastrophic geodynamic processes in the Far East of the Russian Federation.” Acquisition and interpretation of the data and the numerical modeling of seismic and postseismic processes for the 2010 Maule, Chile, earthquake was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project no. 18-05-00159).

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Correspondence to V. O. Mikhailov.

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Translated by M. Nazarenko

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Mikhailov, V.O., Timoshkina, E.P., Smirnov, V.B. et al. On the Origin of Postseismic Deformation Processes in the Region of the Maule, Chile Earthquake of February 27, 2010. Izv., Phys. Solid Earth 56, 762–771 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1134/S106935132006004X

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  • Maule
  • Chile
  • earthquake on February 27
  • 2010
  • GPS
  • InSAR
  • gravity models
  • GRACE satellites
  • rupture surface model
  • viscoelastic stress relaxation
  • postseismic creep