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Are the seismological and geological observations of the Al Hoceima (Morocco, Rif) 2004 earthquake (M = 6.3) contradictory?

AuthorsGalindo-Zaldívar, Jesús; Chalouan, Ahmed; Azzouz, O.; Sanz de Galdeano, Carlos ; Anahnah, Farida; Ameza, L.; Ruano, P.; Pedrera, A.; Ruiz Constán, A.; Marín-Lechado, C.; Benmakhlouf, M.; López-Garrido, A. C.; Ahmamou, M.; Saji, R.; Roldán García, F. J.; Akil, M.; Chabli, A.
KeywordsCoseismic deformation
Seismogenic faults
Recent tectonics
Crustal detachments
Western Mediterranean
Issue Date21-Sep-2009
CitationTectonophysics 475(1): 59-67 (2009)
AbstractSeismic hazard is associated with recent and present fault activity in mountain ranges. In the Betic-Rif alpine mountain chain, tectonic activity started in the Cretaceous, and topographic uplift continues since Tortonian times as a consequence of the NW–SE oblique convergence between Africa and Eurasia. The deformation is active and produces seismicity that sometimes has catastrophic consequences. The Al Hoceima earthquake (February 24, 2004), considered one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded instrumentally in the westernmost Mediterranean (M = 6.3), caused great damage in the region. Seismological studies agree that the main shock was situated on land, at the limit between the External and Internal Zones of the Rif, at a depth of 10–14 km. The focal mechanism points to a strike-slip solution with a NW–SE oriented P axis, quite similar to those of the significant 1994 earthquake swarm located to the north. The epicenter aftershocks distribution would signal the presence of a N–S oriented sinistral fault, activated by the NW–SE regional compression associated to plate boundary convergence. In this setting, the seismogenic fault ruptures related to these seismic events are expected to have reached the Earth's surface. However, detailed field work carried out 1 month after the earthquake does not evidence any N–S strike-slip coseismic fault in the epicentral area. The main observed effects were landslides, damages to constructions, and locally open cracks indicating an unexpected NW–SE extension. Scarce N–S faults are normal, the main ones being located several kilometers away from the epicentral area. To explain this apparent contradiction between geological and seismological observations, we propose a decoupled tectonic model with crustal detachments that separate a deep brittle crust from an upper crust undergoing uplift, and the development of large folds and normal faults. This geological setting, common to internal zones of cordilleras, may need to be taken into account in future paleoseismicity studies and in the assessment of seismic hazard.
Description9 páginas, 7 figuras.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2008.11.018
Appears in Collections:(IACT) Artículos
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