Complementary slip distributions of the August 4, 2003 Mw 7.6 and November 17, 2013 Mw 7.8 South Scotia Ridge earthquakes


The South Scotia Ridge Transform (SSRT) plate boundary between the Scotia and Antarctic plates experienced large strike-slip earthquakes on August 4, 2003 (Mw 7.6) and November 17, 2013 (Mw 7.8). These events have overlapping aftershock zones, which is unusual. A 36°-45° southward dipping fault zone ruptured with left-lateral displacements in each event along the northern margin of the South Orkney micro-continent near 60°S. Slip distributions for the two events are determined using teleseismic body and surface wave recordings along with constraints from GPS ground motion recordings at station BORC on Laurie Island (South Orkney Islands), just south of the SSRT. The aftershock distributions, high-frequency back-projections, and unconstrained body wave finite-fault inversions permit significant overlap of the 2003 and 2013 slip zones; however, the GPS static displacements resolve differences in the large-slip regions of the two ruptures. The 2013 earthquake sequence along the SSRT initiated with Mw 6.1 (November 13) and Mw 6.8 (November 16) foreshocks located ~50 km west of the mainshock hypocenter, and had aftershocks extending ~250 km eastward. The rupture spread primarily eastward at ~2.5 km/s with a total rupture duration of about 120 s, with two distinct patches of large-slip located northwest and northeast of the South Orkney Islands. The rupture swept past BORC, with high-rate GPS (HRGPS) ground motion recordings capturing the time-varying slip history of the faulting. Traditional GPS data require that the largest-slip region of the shorter rupture in 2003 is located in the gap NNE of BORC between the two patches that ruptured in 2013. There appears to be some overlap of lower slip regions. The complementary slip distributions comprise a relatively uniform offset along this portion of the SSRT, which is one of the most seismically active regions of the entire Antarctic plate boundary. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Publication Title

Earth and Planetary Science Letters