Understanding seismotectonic aspects of Central and South American subduction zones

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Abstract

The Circum-Pacific, and particularly the Central and South American, subduction zones are complex structures that are subject to frequent, large-magnitude earthquakes, volcanic activity tsunamis, and geological hazards. Among these natural hazards, earthquakes produce the most significant social and economic impacts in Latin America, and the subduction zones therefore demand constant vigilance and intensive study The American continent has witnessed several earthquakes that rank among the most destructive in the world. Earthquakes such as the ones that occurred in Colombia-Ecuador (Mw = 8.9, 1906), Chile (Mw = 9.6, 1960; Mw = 8.9, 1995), Mexico (Mw = 8.1, 1985), and Peru (Mw = 8.0, 2001), as well as a number of destructive events related to crustal fault systems and volcanic eruptions (e.g.,Soufriere, El Ruiz, Galeras, etc.), have produced significant human and economic loss. The latent seismic hazards in the Caribbean, and Central and South America demand from the regional Earth sciences community accurate models to explain the mechanisms of these natural phenomena.

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