Post-seismic viscoelastic deformation and stress transfer after the 1960 M9.5 Valdivia, Chile earthquake: effects on the 2010 M8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake Academic Article uri icon


  • After the 1960 M9.5 Valdivia, Chile earthquake, three types of geodetic observations were made during four time periods at nearby locations. These post-seismic observations were previously explained by post-seismic afterslip on the downdip extension of the 1960 rupture plane. In this study, we demonstrate that the post-seismic observations can be explained alternatively by volumetric viscoelastic relaxation of the asthenosphere mantle. In searching for the best-fitting viscosity model, we invert for two variables, the thickness of the elastic lithosphere, He, and the effective Maxwell decay time of the asthenosphere mantle, TM, assuming a 100-km-thick asthenosphere mantle. The best solutions to fit the observations in four sequential time periods, 1960–1964, 1960–1968, 1965–1973 and 1980–2010, each yield a similar He value of about 65?km but significantly increasing TM values of 0.7, 6, 10 and 80 yr, respectively. We calculate the corresponding viscoelastic Coulomb stress increase since 1960 on the future rupture plane of the 2010 M8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake. The calculated viscoelastic stress increase on the 2010 rupture plane varies gradually from 13.1 bars at the southern end to 0.1 bars at the northern end. In contrast, the stress increase caused by an afterslip model has a similar spatial distribution but slightly smaller values of 0.1–3.2 bars on the 2010 rupture plane.

publication date

  • May 1, 2014