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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

Rapid postseismic relaxation after the great 2006–2007 Kuril earthquakes from GPS observations in 2007–2011


Corresponding author: M. G. Kogan, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA. (


[1] The 2006–2007 doublet of Mw > 8 earthquakes in the Kuril subduction zone caused postseismic transient motion in the asthenosphere, which we observed on the Kuril GPS Array in 2007–2011. Here we show that the Maxwell asthenospheric viscosity that best fits the geodetic data increased by nearly an order of magnitude over the interval of 4 years, from 2 × 1017 to 1 × 1018 Pa s. These effective values of viscosity can be explained by a power law rheology for which strain rate is proportional to stress raised to a power n > 1. The apparent change in viscosity can also be caused by other factors such as coupling between afterslip and viscoelastic flow. The open and intriguing question in connection with postseismic data after the Kuril earthquake doublet is the magnitude of the long-term asthenospheric viscosity, which shall be revealed by continued observations. An asthenosphere with viscosity of about 1 × 1019 Pa s is favored by the postseismic deformation still observed several decades after the 1960 Chile and 1964 Alaska Mw ~9 earthquakes. However, postseismic deformation associated with the 1952 southern Kamchatka Mw ~9 earthquake currently is not observed in the northern Kurils, an indication that the long-term asthenospheric viscosity in the Kurils is lower than that in Chile and Alaska.

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