Active accommodation of plate convergence in Southern Iran: Earthquake locations, triggered aseismic slip, and regional strain rates

Authors

  • William D. Barnhart,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Institute for the Study of the Continents, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
    2. U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center, Golden, Colorado, USA
    • Corresponding author: W. D. Barnhart, U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center, Golden CO 80401, USA. (wbarnhart@usgs.gov)

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  • Rowena B. Lohman,

    1. Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Institute for the Study of the Continents, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA
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  • Robert J. Mellors

    1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California, USA
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Abstract

[1] We present a catalog of interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) constraints on deformation that occurred during earthquake sequences in southern Iran between 1992 and 2011, and explore the implications on the accommodation of large-scale continental convergence between Saudi Arabia and Eurasia within the Zagros Mountains. The Zagros Mountains, a salt-laden fold-and-thrust belt involving ~10 km of sedimentary rocks overlying Precambrian basement rocks, have formed as a result of ongoing continental collision since 10–20 Ma that is currently occurring at a rate of ~3 cm/yr. We first demonstrate that there is a biased misfit in earthquake locations in global catalogs that likely results from neglect of 3-D velocity structure. Previous work involving two M ~ 6 earthquakes with well-recorded aftershocks has shown that the deformation observed with InSAR may represent triggered slip on faults much shallower than the primary earthquake, which likely occurred within the basement rocks (>10 km depth). We explore the hypothesis that most of the deformation observed with InSAR spanning earthquake sequences is also due to shallow, triggered slip above a deeper earthquake, effectively doubling the moment release for each event. We quantify the effects that this extra moment release would have on the discrepancy between seismically and geodetically constrained moment rates in the region, finding that even with the extra triggered fault slip, significant aseismic deformation during the interseismic period is necessary to fully explain the convergence between Eurasia and Saudi Arabia.

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