Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Uplifted island

22.06.2015

The island Isla Santa María in the south of central Chile is the document of a complete seismic cycle.

Charles Darwin and his captain Robert Fitzroy witnessed the great earthquake of 1835 in south central Chile. Historical nautical charts from the „Beagle“-captain show an uplift of the island Isla Santa María of 2 to 3 meters after the earthquake.


Uplift in the Santa María island as a result of the Maule earthquake in 2010. The island experienced a sudden uplift about 2 meters during the earthquake. (Photo: M. Moreno, GFZ)

What Darwin and Fitzroy couldn’t know was the fact that 175 years later nearly at the same position such a strong earthquake would recur.

At the South American west coastline the Pacific Ocean floor moves under the South American continent. Resulting that through an in- and decrease of tension the earth’s crust along the whole continent from Tierra del Fuego to Peru broke alongside the entire distance in series of earthquakes within one and a half century. The earthquake of 1835 was the beginning of such a seismic cycle in this area.

After examining the results of the Maule earthquake in 2010 a team of geologists from Germany, Chile and the US for the first time were able to measure and simulate a complete seismic cycle at its vertical movement of the earth’s crust at this place.

In the current online-edition of „Nature Geoscience“ they report about the earthquakes: After the earthquake of 1835 with a magnitude of about 8,5 Isla Santa María was uplifted up to 3 m, subsided again about 1,5 m in the following 175 years, and upliftet anew 1,5-2 m caused by the Maule earthquake with a moment magnitude scale of 8,8.

The Maule earthquake belongs to the great earthquakes, which was fully recorded and therefore well documented by a modern network of space-geodetical and geophysical measuring systems on the ground. More difficult was the reconstruction of the processes in 1835.

But nautical charts from 1804 before the earthquake, from 1835 and 1886 as well as the precise documentation of captain Fitzroy allow in combination with present-day methods a sufficient accurate determination of the vertical movement of the earth’s crust along a complete seismic cycle.

At the beginning of such a cycle energy is stored by elastic deformation of the earth’s crust, then released at the time of the earthquake. “But interestingly, our observations hint at a variable subsidence rate during the seismic cycle” explains Marcos Moreno from GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, one of the co-authors.

“Between great earthquakes the plates beneath Isla Santa María are large locked, dragging the edge of the South American plate, and the island upon it, downward and eastward.” During the earthquakes, motion is suddenly reversed and the edge of the South America Plate and island are thrust upward and to the west.” This complex movement pattern could be perfectly confirmed by a numerical model. In total, over time arises a permanent vertical uplift of 10 to 20% of the complete uplift.

Records of earthquakes show that there are no periodically sequence repetition times or consistent repeating magnitudes of earthquakes. An important instrument for a better estimation of risks caused by earthquakes are the compilation and measurement of earth’s crust deformation through an entire seismic cycle.

Wesson, R. L., Melnick, D., Cisternas, M., Moreno, M. & Ely, L.: “Vertical deformation through a complete seismic cycle at Isla Santa María, Chile”, Nature Geoscience, Advance Online Publication, 22.06.2015, http://dx.doi.org/10/1038/ngeo2468  (2015). DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2468

For photos in printable resolution click here:
https://media.gfz-potsdam.de/gfz/wv/05_Medien_Kommunikation/Bildarchiv/Erdbeben%20in%20Chile/20150618_ISM_cover_2.jpeg

https://media.gfz-potsdam.de/gfz/wv/05_Medien_Kommunikation/Bildarchiv/Erdbeben%20in%20Chile/20150618_melnick_cover_3.jpeg

Franz Ossing
Helmholtz Centre Potsdam
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences
Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum
- Head, Public Relations -
Telegrafenberg
14473 Potsdam / Germany
E-Mail: ossing@gfz-potsdam.de
Tel. +49 (0)331-288 1040
Fax +49 (0)331-288 1044
www.gfz-potsdam.de

Franz Ossing | Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores
24.01.2017 | University of Utah

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores

24.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Synthetic nanoparticles achieve the complexity of protein molecules

24.01.2017 | Life Sciences

PPPL physicist uncovers clues to mechanism behind magnetic reconnection

24.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>