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Geophysical Journal International

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Global Positioning System, Deformations (Mechanics), Earthquakes -- Mexico


We use continuous GPS measurements from 31 stations in southernMexico to model coseismic slip and post-seismic deformation from the 2012 March 20 Mw = 7.5 Ometepec earthquake, the first large thrust earthquake to occur below central Mexico during the modern GPS era. Coseismic offsets ranging from ∼280 mm near the epicentre to 5 mm or less at sites far from the epicentre are fit best by a rupture focused between ∼15 and 35 km depth, consistent with an independent seismological estimate. The corresponding geodetic moment of 1.4 × 1020 N·m is within 10 per cent of two independent seismic estimates. Transient post-seismic motion recorded by GPS sites as far as 300 km from the rupture has a different horizontal deformation gradient and opposite sense of vertical motion than do the coseismic offsets. A forward model of viscoelastic relaxation as a result of our new coseismic slip solution incorrectly predicts uplift in areas where post-seismic subsidence was recorded and indicates that viscoelastic deformation was no more than a few per cent of the measured post-seismic deformation. The deformation within 6 months of the earthquake was thus strongly dominated by fault afterslip. The post-seismic GPS time-series are well fit as logarithmically decaying fault afterslip on an area of the subduction interface up to 10 times larger than the earthquake rupture zone, extending as far as 220 km inland. Afterslip had a cumulative geodetic moment of 2.0 × 1020 N·m, ∼40 per cent larger than the Ometepec earthquake. Tests for the shallow and deep limits for the afterslip require that it included much of the earthquake rupture zone as well as regions of the subduction interface where slow slip events and non-volcanic tremor have been recorded and areas even farther downdip on the flat interface. Widespread afterslip below much of central Mexico suggests that most of the nearly flat subduction interface in this region is conditionally stable and thus contributes measurable transient deformation to large areas of Mexico south of and in the volcanic belt.


This article has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Journal International © The Authors 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.



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