Asperities and barriers on the seismogenic zone in North Chile: state-of-the-art after the 2007Mw 7.7 Tocopilla earthquake inferred by GPS and InSAR data

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The Mw 7.7 2007 November 14 earthquake had an epicentre located close to the city of Tocopilla, at the southern end of a known seismic gap in North Chile. Through modelling of Global Positioning System (GPS) and radar interferometry (InSAR) data, we show that this event ruptured the deeper part of the seismogenic interface (30–50 km) and did not reach the surface. The earthquake initiated at the hypocentre and was arrested ∼150 km south, beneath the Mejillones Peninsula, an area already identified as an important structural barrier between two segments of the Peru–Chile subduction zone. Our preferred models for the Tocopilla main shock show slip concentrated in two main asperities, consistent with previous inversions of seismological data. Slip appears to have propagated towards relatively shallow depths at its southern extremity, under the Mejillones Peninsula. Our analysis of post-seismic deformation suggests that small but still significant post-seismic slip occurred within the first 10 d after the main shock, and that it was mostly concentrated at the southern end of the rupture. The post-seismic deformation occurring in this period represents ∼12–19 per cent of the coseismic deformation, of which ∼30–55 per cent has been released aseismically. Postseismic slip appears to concentrate within regions that exhibit low coseismic slip, suggesting that the afterslip distribution during the first month of the post-seismic interval complements the coseismic slip. The 2007 Tocopilla earthquake released only ∼2.5 per cent of the moment deficit accumulated on the interface during the past 130 yr and may be regarded as a possible precursor of a larger subduction earthquake rupturing partially or completely the 500-km-long North Chile seismic gap.
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