Research ArticleGEOPHYSICS

Areas prone to slow slip events impede earthquake rupture propagation and promote afterslip

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Science Advances  31 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaao6596
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao6596

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Abstract

At subduction zones, transient aseismic slip occurs either as afterslip following a large earthquake or as episodic slow slip events during the interseismic period. Afterslip and slow slip events are usually considered as distinct processes occurring on separate fault areas governed by different frictional properties. Continuous GPS (Global Positioning System) measurements following the 2016 Mw (moment magnitude) 7.8 Ecuador earthquake reveal that large and rapid afterslip developed at discrete areas of the megathrust that had previously hosted slow slip events. Regardless of whether they were locked or not before the earthquake, these areas appear to persistently release stress by aseismic slip throughout the earthquake cycle and outline the seismic rupture, an observation potentially leading to a better anticipation of future large earthquakes.

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