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POTENTIAL OF TSUNAMI GENERATION ALONG THE COLOMBIA/ECUADOR SUBDUCTION MARGIN AND THE DOLORES-GUAYAQUIL MEGA-THRUST

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Author(s): George Pararas-Carayannis

Journal: Science of Tsunami Hazards
ISSN 8755-6839

Volume: 31;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 209;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Colombia/Ecuador Trench | subduction | tsunami | earthquake | Carnegie Ridge | Guayaquil- Tumbes Basin | Dolores Guayaquil megathrust

ABSTRACT
The Colombia/Ecuador subduction zone is a region where high seismic stress is presently accumulating. Statistical probability studies and GPS measurements of crustal deformation indicate that the region has an increased potential to generate in the near future a major or great tsunamigenic earthquake similar to the 1979 or 1906. Although most of the major earthquakes along this margin usually generate local tsunamis, the recurrence of a great mega-thrust, inter-plate earthquake, similar in magnitude and rupture to the 1906 event (Mw=8.8, rupture 600 km.), can generate a tsunami with destructive near and far-field impacts. To understand the potential for such destructive tsunami generation in this region, the present study examines and evaluates: a) the controlling inter-plate coupling mechanisms of the tectonic regime of the margin – including lithospheric structure deformation, sea-floor relief and the subduction or accretion of highly folded, hydrated sediments along the seismogenic zone of southern Colombia/North Ecuador; b) the seismo-dynamics and role in tsunami generation as affected by the Carnegie Ridge’s oblique subduction beneath the South American continent; and c) the seismotectonic extensional processes in the vicinity of the Gulf of Guayaquil-Tumbes Basin and how the northwestward movement of the North Andes block away from the South American continent along the Dolores Guayaquil mega-thrust and the resulting strain rotation may cause sudden detachment, décollement and deformation, with the potential for local tsunami generation that may affect the Gulf of Guayaquil and other coastal areas along southern Ecuador.
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