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Strain signals governed by frictional-elastoplastic interaction of the upper plate and shallow subduction megathrust interface over seismic cycles
  • Ehsan Kosari,
  • Matthias Rosenau,
  • Onno Oncken
Ehsan Kosari
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

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Matthias Rosenau
Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences
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Onno Oncken
GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam
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Understanding the behavior of the shallow portion of the subduction zone, which generates the largest earthquakes and devastating tsunamis, is a vital step forward in earthquake geoscience. Monitoring only a fraction of a single megathrust earthquake cycle and the offshore location of the source of these earthquakes are the foremost reasons for the insufficient understanding. The frictional-elastoplastic interaction between the interface and its overlying wedge causes variable surface strain signals such that the wedge strain patterns may reveal the mechanical state of the interface. We employ Seismotectonic Scale Modeling and simplify elastoplastic megathrust subduction, generate hundreds of analog seismic cycles at laboratory scale, and monitor the surface strain signals over the model’s forearc over high to low temporal resolutions. We establish two coseismically compressional and extensional wedge configurations to explore the mechanical and kinematic interaction between the shallow wedge and the interface. Our results demonstrate that this interaction can partition the wedge into different segments such that the anlastic extensional segment overlays the seismogenic zone at depth. Moreover, the different segments of the wedge may switch their state from compression/extension to extension/compression domains. We highlight that a more segmented upper plate represents megathrust subduction that generates more characteristic and periodic events. Additionally, the strain time series reveals that the strain state may remain quasi-stable over a few seismic cycles in the coastal zone and then switch to the opposite mode. These observations are crucial for evaluating earthquake-related morphotectonic markers (i.e., marine terraces) and short-term interseismic GPS time-series onshore (coastal region).
May 2022Published in Tectonics volume 41 issue 5. 10.1029/2021TC007099