Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Earthquake in Chile -- a complicated fracture

10.03.2010
A jumping rupture process

The extremely strong earthquake in Chile on 27 February this year was a complicated rupture process, as scientists from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences found out. Quakes with such magnitude virtually penetrate the entire Earth's crust.

After closer analysis of the seismic waves radiated by this earthquake during the first 134 seconds after start of the rupture, the researchers came to the conclusion that only the region around the actual epicentre was active during the first minutes. In the second minute the active zone moved north towards Santiago. After that the region south of Concepción became active for a short time. This rupturing trend agrees well with the distribution of the aftershocks during the following three days, as observed by the GEOFON-measuring network of the GFZ up to 03.03.2010.

In the year 1960, the strongest earthquake measured at all to date, with a magnitude of M=9.5, had its origin at Valdivia, south of the region affected now. "The quake of 27 February connects directly to the rupture process of Valdivia", explains Professor Jochen Zschau, Director of the Section "Earthquake Risk and Early Warning" at the GFZ. "With this, one of the last two seismic gaps along the west coast of South America might now be closed. With the exception of one last section, found in North Chile, the entire earth crust before the west coast of South America has been ruptured within the last 150 years."

The underlying plate tectonic procedure is such that the Nazca-Plate as part of the Pacific Ocean Floor moves eastwards with approximately seventy millimetres per year, collides with South America and thereby pushes under the continent. The hereby developing earthquakes belong to the strongest world-wide. In the course of about one century, the Earth's ruptures completely in a number of strong quakes from Patagonia in the South to Panama in the North. Even Darwin reported, in his diary, of the strong earthquake in Concepción on 20 February 1835 and the resulting Tsunami.

In order to examine the aftershock activity in the now fractured seismic gap, scientists from the GFZ are travelling to Chile on March 13, 2010 where, together with the Chilean Seismological Service, they will set-up a seismological-geodetic network in the area of Concepción-Santiago. Partners from Germany (IFM Geomar, Kiel; Free University of Berlin) and from abroad (Institut de Physique du Globe, Paris; University of Liverpool; United States Geological Survey; IRIS) are also taking part in this measuring campaign. The mission will last about three months. The results, one expects, will be able to provide an insight into the mechanisms of the fracture in the Earth's crust. This activity is financed on the German side by the GFZ.

Scientists from the GFZ have been examining the collision of the Nazca plate and the South American continent since 1994. As a result of numerous expeditions and measuring campaigns in this area this Potsdam Helmholtz Centre avails of the probably the most dense data record on such a subduction zone. "Within the framework of the DFG Priority Programme "Deformation processes in the Andes", and with the Geotechnology Project TIPTEQ we have just been able to collect a unique data record for the southern part of the Andes" says Professor Onno Oncken, Director of the Department Geodynamics and Geomaterials at the GFZ, and leader of these studies. The current quake puts us in the position to precisely compare the tectonics before and afterwards, a unique situation both internationally and in Earth science.

Currently, the GFZ operates a so-called Plate Boundary Observatory PBO in the north of Chile, exactly in the last remaining seismic gap in Chile. This observatory will be handed over to Chilean colleagues by the Chairman of the Board of the GFZ, Professor Reinhard Huettl, within the framework of the cooperation with the Earthquake Service of Chile during a festive event on 15 March.

The integrated field experiment is accompanied by the new Berlin-Brandenburg research platform Geo.X, which took up its work on 03 March 2010.

Illustrations in printable form can be found under: http://www.gfz-potsdam.de/portal/gfz/Public+Relations/M40-Bildarchiv/Bildergalerie+Chile-Erdbeben

F. Ossing | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gfz-potsdam.de

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology
22.06.2017 | Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

nachricht How reliable are shells as climate archives?
21.06.2017 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>