Relocation of shallow earthquakes in southern Alaska using Joint Hypocenter Determination method

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Abstract

A subset of 2660 shallow earthquakes (0–50 km) that occurred from 1988 to 1996 in south central Alaska between 155°W and 145°W and 59°N and 63°N was relocated using the joint hypocenter determination (JHD) method. Both P- and S-wave observations recorded by the regional seismic network were used. Events were relocated in twenty different groups based on their geographic location and depth using two velocity models. As a result of the relocation, the majority of the hypocenters shifted downward, while the epicenter locations did not change significantly. The distribution of the shallow subduction zone earthquakes indicates the existence of two seismically independent blocks, with one block occupying the northeastern part and the other occupying the central and western parts of the study area. The boundary between the blocks is marked by a 15 to 20 km wide seismicity gap to the southeast of 149.5°W and 62°N. The analysis of the fault plane solutions for shallow subduction zone earthquakes shows that an overwhelming majority of the solutions represent normal, oblique-normal or strike-slip faulting with predominant WNW-ESE orientation of T-axes. This indicates a down-dip extensional regime for the subducting slab at shallow depths. Very few earthquakes yielded fault plane solutions consistent with thrusting on a contact zone between the overriding and subducting plates. This result may be an indication that currently either the strain energy is not released at the contact zone or it is associated with aseismic motion.

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