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GEODYNAMICS OF NAZCA RIDGE’S OBLIQUE SUBDUCTION AND MIGRATION - IMPLICATIONS FOR TSUNAMI GENERATION ALONG CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN PERU: Earthquake and Tsunami of 23 June 2001

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Author(s): George Pararas-Carayannis

Journal: Science of Tsunami Hazards
ISSN 8755-6839

Volume: 31;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 129;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Peru earthquake | tsunami | Peru-Chile Trench | seismotectonics | Nazca Ridge

ABSTRACT
Peru is in a region of considerable geologic and seismic complexity. Thrust faulting along the boundary where the Nazca plate subducts beneath the South American continent has created three distinct seismic zones. The angle of subduction of the Nazca oceanic plate beneath the South American plate is not uniform along the entire segment of the Peru-Chile Trench. Furthermore, subduction is affected by buoyancy forces of the bounding oceanic ridges and fractures - such as the Mendana Fracture Zone (MFZ) to the North and the Nazca Ridge to the South. This narrow zone is characterized by shallow earthquakes that can generate destructive tsunamis of varied intensities. The present study examines the significance of Nazca Ridge’s oblique subduction and migration to the seismicity of Central/Southern Peru and to tsunami generation. The large tsunamigenic earthquake of 23 June 2001 is presented as a case study. This event generated a destructive, local tsunami that struck Peru’s southern coasts with waves ranging from 3 to 4.6 meters (10-15 feet) and inland inundation that ranged from 1 to 3 km. In order to understand the near and far-field tsunamigenic efficiency of events along Central/Southern Peru and the significance of Nazca Ridge’s oblique subduction, the present study examines further the geologic structure of the region and this quake’s moment tensor analysis, energy release, fault rupture and the spatial distribution of aftershocks. Tsunami source mechanism characteristics for this event are presented, as inferred from seismic intensities, energy releases, fault plane solutions and the use of empirical relationships. The study concludes that the segment of subduction and faulting paralleling the Peru-Chile Trench from about 150 to 180 South, as well as the obliquity of convergent tectonic plate collision in this region, may be the reason for shorter rupture lengths of major earthquakes and the generation of only local destructive tsunamis.
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