Stress triggering and the canterbury earthquake sequence

Sandy Steacy*, Abigail Jiménez, Caroline Holden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Canterbury earthquake sequence, which includes the devastating Christchurch event of 2011 February, has to date led to losses of around 40 billion NZ dollars. The location and severity of the earthquakes was a surprise to most inhabitants as the seismic hazard model was dominated by an expected Mw > 8 earthquake on the Alpine fault and an Mw 7.5 earthquake on the Porters Pass fault, 150 and 80 km to the west of Christchurch. The sequence to date has included an Mw = 7.1 earthquake and 3 Mw ≥5.9 events which migrated from west to east. Here we investigate whether the later events are consistent with stress triggering and whether a simple stress map produced shortly after the first earthquake would have accurately indicated the regions where the subsequent activity occurred. We find that 100 per cent of M > 5.5 earthquakes occurred in positive stress areas computed using a slip model for the first event that was available within 10 d of its occurrence. We further find that the stress changes at the starting points of major slip patches of post-Darfield main events are consistent with triggering although this is not always true at the hypocentral locations. Our results suggest that Coulomb stress changes contributed to the evolution of the Canterbury sequence and we note additional areas of increased stress in the Christchurch region and on the Porters Pass fault.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-480
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Volume196
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Earthquake dynamics
  • Earthquake interaction
  • Forecasting, and prediction
  • Seismicity and tectonics

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