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Keywords:

  • asthenosphere;
  • normal modes;
  • viscoelasticity

SUMMARY

The Mwγ 9.0 2004 December 26 Sumatra-Andaman and Mw= 8.7 2005 March 28 Nias earthquakes, which collectively ruptured approximately 1800 km of the Andaman and Sunda subduction zones, are expected to be followed by vigorous viscoelastic relaxation involving both the upper and lower mantle. Because of these large spatial dimensions it is desirable to fully account for gravitational coupling effects in the relaxation process. We present a stable method of computing relaxation of a spherically-stratified, compressible and self-gravitating viscoelastic Earth following an impulsive moment release event. The solution is cast in terms of a spherical harmonic expansion of viscoelastic normal modes. For simple layered viscoelastic models, which include a low-viscosity oceanic asthenosphere, we predict substantial post-seismic effects over a region several 100s of km wide surrounding the eastern Indian Ocean. We compare observed GPS time-series from ten regional sites (mostly in Thailand and Indonesia), beginning in 2004 December, with synthetic time-series that include the coseismic and post-seismic effects of the 2004 December 26 and 2005 March 28 earthquakes. A viscosity structure involving a biviscous (Burgers body) rheology in the asthenosphere explains the pattern and amplitude of post-seismic offsets remarkably well.