Constraining slip and timing of past earthquake rupture
Zielke, Olaf Bateman Physical Science Center, School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
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Why do earthquakes occur? What controls the recurrence of major earthquakes? Can earthquakes be predicted? And if so, how can they be predicted? These and similar questions have kept scientists as well as nonscientists occupied ever since the destructive potential of earthquakes was first witnessed. The recent earthquakes in Indonesia (moment magnitude M9.2, 2004), China (M7.9, 2008), Haiti (M7.0, 2010), and Chile (M8.8, 2010) dramatically exemplified the devastation and socioeconomic impact of major seismic events, underlining the scientific as well as public interest in knowing when a given fault is going to rupture again and how large the corresponding earthquake will become. A primary step toward addressing these questions is the identification of earthquake recurrence patterns in the existing seismic record. High-resolution light detection and ranging (Lidar) and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) topographic data sets provide a powerful resource in this effort. They resolve current geomorphology as well as coseismic and postseismic deformation fields in unprecedented detail—valuable data for a deeper understanding of the mechanics of earthquakes and faulting. This article discusses both data sets and how they have been used in recent geomorphic, geodetic, and seismic studies.
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