Earthquake Series Might Explain Uplift On Continental Margins

Knowing about earthquakes is critical especially in regions that are prone to it. Strong earthquakes cost lives as well as damages. For many years there have been various studies on how to determine when an earthquake might strike and transform regions. A new study has come up that tries to explain uplift in certain places where large earthquakes have struck.

According to Science Daily this new mechanism shows that earthquakes that have magnitudes greater than seven have caused uplifts on continental margins. The study of these uplifts has great importance, as it can help in determining tsunami risk and seismic hazard in many parts of the world.

Uplift happens when one part of land rises up due to an earthquake. This happens because one section of the continental plate goes under another. This process is called subduction. As the plate goes underneath it pushes the other plate up, which then raises the land above it.

Geologists looked for clues as to where M7 earthquakes might have hit and caused uplift on the land. To do this, they studied paleo-shorelines from eight subduction points and then used 2D numerical models.

The modeling helped to show that the uplift in these areas was caused by plate boundary processes, but was caused more by a clustering of M7 earthquakes on the upper crust faults, as the GFZ site states.

The study has been made by a team led by Vasiliki Mouslopoulou of the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences. The team is represented German scientists from GFZ and those from New Zealand from the University of Canterbury.

The study shows that earthquake clustering is not only made smaller-sized earthquakes but could also happen in large subduction earthquakes with magnitudes greater than M7. There is also a potential that large damaging earthquakes could happen on active subduction margins that have not experienced any recent uplift.

"For the first time temporal clustering of great earthquakes is shown on active subduction margins, indicating an intense period of strain release due to successive earthquakes, followed by long periods of seismic quiescence," explained Mouslopoulou.

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