Strain pattern and kinematics of the Canarian Islands from GNNSS time series analysis

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Following the 2004 seismic unrest at Tenerife and the 2011–2012 submarine eruption at El Hierro, the number of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) observation sites in the Canary Islands (Spain) has increased, offering scientists a useful tool with which to infer the kinematics and present-day surface deformation of the Canary sector of the Atlantic Ocean. We take advantage of the common-mode component filtering technique to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the velocities retrieved from the daily solutions of 18 permanent GNSS stations distributed in the Canaries. The analysis of GNSS time series spanning the period 2011–2017 enabled us to characterize major regions of deformation along the archipelago through the mapping of the 2D infinitesimal strain field. By applying the triangular segmentation approach to GNSS velocities, we unveil a variable kinematic behaviour within the islands. The retrieved extension pattern shows areas of maximum deformation west of Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura. For the submarine main seismogenic fault between Tenerife and Gran Canaria, we simulated the horizontal deformation and strain due to one of the strongest (mbLg 5.2) earthquakes of the region. The seismic areas between islands, mainly offshore Tenerife and Gran Canaria, seem mainly influenced by the regional tectonic stress, not the local volcanic activity. In addition, the analysis of the maximum shear strain confirms that the regional stress field influences the E–W and NE–SW tectonic lineaments, which, in accordance with the extensional and compressional tectonic regimes identified, might favour episodes of volcanism in the Canary Islands.
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