Did the September 2010 (Darfield) earthquake trigger the February 2011 (Christchurch) event?


We have investigated the possible cause-and-effect relationship due to stress transfer between two earthquakes that occurred near Christchurch, New Zealand, in September 2010 and in February 2011. The Mw 7.1 Darfield (Canterbury) event took place along a previously unrecognized fault. The Mw 6.3 Christchurch earthquake, generated by a thrust fault, occurred approximately five months later, 6km south-east of Christchurch's city center. We have first measured the surface displacement field to retrieve the geometries of the two seismic sources and the slip distribution. In order to assess whether the first earthquake increased the likelihood of occurrence of a second earthquake, we compute the Coulomb Failure Function (CFF). We find that the maximum CFF increase over the second fault plane is reached exactly around the hypocenter of the second earthquake. In this respect, we may conclude that the Darfield earthquake contributed to promote the rupture of the Christchurch fault.

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Scientific Reports