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Paleoseismic analysis of the San Vicente segment of the El Salvador Fault Zone, El Salvador, Central America



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Canora Catalán, Carolina and Villamor Pérez, María Pilar and Martínez Díaz, José J. and Berryman, K.R. and Álvarez Gómez, José Antonio and Capote del Villar, Ramón and Hernández, Walter (2012) Paleoseismic analysis of the San Vicente segment of the El Salvador Fault Zone, El Salvador, Central America. Geologica acta, 10 (2). pp. 103-123. ISSN 1695-6133


Official URL: http://www.geologica-acta.com


The El Salvador earthquake of February 13th 2001 (Mw 6.6) was associated with the tectonic rupture of the El
Salvador Fault Zone. Paleoseismic studies of the El Salvador Fault Zone undertaken after this earthquake provide
a basis for examining the longer history of surface rupturing earthquakes on the fault. Trenching at five sites
along the San Vicente segment, a 21km-long and up to 2km-wide central section of the El Salvador Fault Zone,
shows that surface fault rupture has occurred at least seven times during the past 8ka. Single-event displacements
identified at each trench vary from several decimetres to at least 3.7m. Fault trace mapping, geomorphic analysis,
and paleoseismic studies indicate a maximum magnitude for the El Salvador Fault Zone is c. Mw 7.6, with a
recurrence interval of around 800yr. Earthquakes of Mw 6.6 or smaller, such as the February 2001 event are unlikely
to be identified in the paleoseismic trenches, so our observations represent the minimum number of moderate to
large earthquakes that have occurred on this part of the El Salvador Fault Zone. We observe significant variability
in single-event displacement in the trenches, which we interpret as possible cascade rupture of several segments
of the El Salvador Fault Zone. Combining displacements of river courses and the timing of events revealed in the
trenches, we calculate a slip rate of c. 4mm/yr for El Salvador Fault Zone, identifying the fault zone as a major
tectonic feature of the region, and a major source of seismic hazard and risk in El Salvador.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:El Salvador Fault Zone, Active fault characterisation, Strike-slip fault, Volcanic arc, Paleoseismic studies
Subjects:Sciences > Geology > Seismology
ID Code:26081
Deposited On:01 Jul 2014 09:07
Last Modified:29 Apr 2015 07:59

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