Articles | Volume 10, issue 12
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 10, 2565–2577, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-10-2565-2010
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 10, 2565–2577, 2010
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-10-2565-2010

  15 Dec 2010

15 Dec 2010

Vrancea slab earthquakes triggered by static stress transfer

A. Ganas1, B. Grecu2, E. Batsi1, and M. Radulian2 A. Ganas et al.
  • 1Geodynamics Institute, National Observatory of Athens, 118 10 Lofos Nymfon, P.O. Box 20048, Athens, Greece
  • 2National Institute for Earth Physics, Calugareni str. 12, P.O. MG-2, 077125, Bucharest-Magurele, Ilfov, Romania

Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to study the interaction of the Vrancea seismic activity (Romania) in space as result of Coulomb, static stress transfer during M=7+ events. In this area, three large events occurred in 1977, 1986 and 1990 at mid-lower, lithospheric depths and with similar focal mechanisms. Assuming elastic rheology for the deforming rocks it is suggested that frictional sliding on pre-existing fault produced the 1986 M=7.1 event (depth 131 km), that was possibly triggered by the 1977 M=7.4 event (depth 94 km). We calculated a static stress transfer of 0.52–0.78 bar to the hypocentre of the 1986 event. On the contrary, the occurrence of the 1990 event is uncertain: it is located inside the relaxed (shadow) zone of the combined 1977 and 1986 static stress field considering an azimuth for maximum compression of N307° E. It follows that, the 1990 earthquake most likely represents an unbroken patch (asperity) of the 1977 rupture plane that failed due to loading. However, if a different compression azimuth is assumed (N323° E) then the 1990 event was also possibly triggered by static stress transfer of the 1977 and 1986 events (combined). Our modeling is a first-order approximation of the kind of earthquake interaction we might expect at intermediate lithospheric depths (80–90 to 130–140 km). It is also suggested that static stress transfer may explain the clustering of Vrancea earthquakes in space by the rupturing of two (possibly three) NW-dipping major zones of weakness (faults) which accommodate the extension (vertical elongation) of the slab.

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