Crustal Seismicity in the Back-Arc Region of the Southern Central Andes from Historic to Modern Times
AuthorAlvarado, Patricia Monica
AdvisorBeck, Susan L.
Committee ChairBeck, Susan L.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe western margin of South America between 30ºS and 36ºS is seismically active. While the largest magnitude earthquakes are the interplate subduction zone events, the historically most devastating earthquakes have been the moderate-to-large magnitude earthquakes with depths < 35 km in the Andean back-arc. This region is characterized by accreted terranes later reactivated during Mesozoic extensional processes. Crustal seismicity in the back-arc is related to the thin-skinned Precordillera (PC) fold-thrust belt and the thick-skinned Sierras Pampeanas (SP) basement-cored uplifts overlying the flat slab segment. South of 33ºS, the active volcanic arc above the normally dipping subducted plate is also seismically active at crustal depths. In this study we combined historical and regional broadband seismic data to characterize moderate-to-large earthquakes and the crustal structure in this region. We have digitized and modeled teleseismic records of the 1944 and 1952 San Juan, Argentina PC earthquakes. Both events have shallow source depths, short duration of the source time functions with a thrusting focal solution for the 1944 (Mw 7.0) earthquake and a major strike-slip component in the 1952 (Mw 6.8) earthquake solution. By modeling regional broadband waveforms collected during the CHile-ARgentina Geophysical Experiment (CHARGE) during 2000 and 2002 we constrained the seismic moment tensor and improved focal depths for 27 crustal (3.5 < Mw < 5.1) earthquakes. We found predominantly thrust-fault focal mechanisms and focal depths of 10-26 km for earthquakes over the flat slab region; the eastern SP and active arc have earthquakes with strike-slip focal mechanisms and shallower depths. We used these same earthquakes to determine the crustal structure using raypaths that sample different geologic terranes. Our results indicate high Vp, low Vs for the northern Cordillera, PC and western SP thicker crust; low Vp, low Vs and a thinner crust beneath the arc (south of 33°S) consistent with a mafic composition and partial melt. The eastern SP basement shows low Vp, low Vs and thinner crust consistent with a more quartz-rich composition. These differences have an important control on the present day Andean earthquake deformation and the high seismic hazard posed in this region.