Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Arriagada C., Arancibia G., Cembrano J., Martinez F., Carrizo D., Van Sint Jan M., Saez E., Gonzalez G., Rebolledo S., Sepulveda S., Contreras-Reyes E., Jensen E. and Yañez G. (2011)

Nature and tectonic significance of co-seismic structures associated with the Mw 8.8 Maule earthquake, central southern Chile forearc. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jsg.2011.03.004

Revista : Journal of Structural Geology
Volumen : 33
Número : 5
Páginas : 891-897
Tipo de publicación : ISI Ir a publicación


The Mw 8.8 Maule earthquake on February 27, 2010 affected the central-southern Chilean forearc of the Central Andes. Here we show the results of field investigations of surface deformation associated with this major earthquake. Observations were carried out within three weeks after the seismic event, mostly in the central and northern part of the forearc overlying the rupture zone. We provide a detailed field record of co-seismic surface deformation and examine its implications on active Andean tectonics. Surface rupture consisted primarily of extensional cracks, push-up structures, fissures with minor lateral displacements and a few but impressive extensional geometries similar to those observed in analogical modeling of rift systems. A major group of NW-WNW striking fractures representing co-seismic extensional deformation is found at all localities. These appear to be spatially correlated to long-lived basement fault zones. The NW-striking normal focal mechanism of the Mw 6.9 aftershock occurred on March 11 demonstrates that the basement faults were reactivated by the Mw 8.8 Maule earthquake. The co-seismic surface ruptures show patterns of distributed deformation similar to those observed in mapped basement-involved structures. We propose that co-seismic reactivation of basement structures play a fundamental role in stress release in the upper plate during large subduction earthquakes. The fundamental mechanism that promotes stress relaxation is largely driven by elastic rebound of the upper plate located right above the main rupture zone.