The 2010 Haiti earthquake: A complex fault pattern constrained by seismologic and tectonic observations | INSTITUT DE PHYSIQUE DU GLOBE DE PARIS


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  The 2010 Haiti earthquake: A complex fault pattern constrained by seismologic and tectonic observations

Type de publication:

Journal Article


Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 38 (2011)



Numéro d'accès:




UMR 7154 ; Géosciences Marines ; Haiti 2010 earthquake ; afltershocks


After the January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake, we deployed a mainly offshore temporary network of seismologic stations around the damaged area. The distribution of the recorded aftershocks, together with morphotectonic observations and mainshock analysis, allow us to constrain a complex fault pattern in the area. Almost all of the aftershocks have a N-S compressive mechanism, and not the expected left-lateral strike-slip mechanism. A first-order slip model of the mainshock shows a N264°E north-dipping plane, with a major left-lateral component and a strong reverse component. As the aftershock distribution is sub-parallel and close to the Enriquillo fault, we assume that although the cause of the catastrophe was not a rupture along the Enriquillo fault, this fault had an important role as a mechanical boundary. The azimuth of the focal planes of the aftershocks are parallel to the north-dipping faults of the Transhaitian Belt, which suggests a triggering of failure on these discontinuities. In the western part, the aftershock distribution reflects the triggering of slip on similar faults, and/or, alternatively, of the south-dipping faults, such the Trois-Baies submarine fault. These observations are in agreement with a model of an oblique collision of an indenter of the oceanic crust of the Southern Peninsula and the sedimentary wedge of the Transhaitian Belt: the rupture occurred on a wrench fault at the rheologic boundary on top of the under-thrusting rigid oceanic block, whereas the aftershocks were the result of the relaxation on the hanging wall along pre-existing discontinuities in the frontal part of the Transhaitian Belt.


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