DISCONTINUOUS NATURE OF THE LOWER PART OF THE SOUTH AMERICAN WADATI-BENIOFF ZONE IN THE ARICA ELBOW REGION

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Abstract

Summary

The Arica Elbow region represents that part of Andean South America where the azimuth of the strike of the Peru-Chile trench changes from 150° to 190°. The area under study is roughly bounded by latitudes 17 °S and 23 °S, The shape of the Wadati-Benioff zone was studied in terms of the distribution of ISC hypocentres dated between 1964 and 1993. A system of 22 vertical cross-sections, perpendicular to the trench axis, and a map of epicentres was used to derive the detailed shape of the Wadati-Benioff zone of the presently descending slab. The distribution of earthquake foci indicates a fingerlike shape of the lower part of the Wadati-Benioff zone beneath the aseismic gap. The slab length shows small changes around 350 km in the northern sections, pronounced length oscillations between 350 and 750 km in the neighbouring central sections and a constant value of 650 km in the southern sections. The dip and thickness of the Wadati-Benioff zone are practically constant in all sections. Fault plane solutions, separated spatially into three zones, were used to estimate the state of stress in the slab.

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