Main shock and aftershocks of the December 13, 1990, Eastern Sicily earthquake

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A. Amato
R. Azzara
A. Basili
C. Chiarabba
M. Cocco
M. Di Bona
G. Selvaggi


n this paper we describe the location and the fault plane solution of the December 13, 1990, Eastern Sicily earthquake (ML = 5.4), and of its aftershock sequence. Because the main shock location is not well constrained due to the geometry of the permanent National Seismic Network in this area, we used a "master event" algorithm to locate it in relation to a well located aftershock. The revised location is slightly offshore Eastern Sicily, 4.8 km north of the largest aftershock (ML = 4.6) that occurred on December 16, 1990. The main shock has a strike-slip mechanism, indicating SE-NW compression with either left lateral motion on a NS plane, or right lateral on an EW plane. Two days after the main event we deployed a local network of eight digital stations, that provided accurate locations of the aftershocks, and the estimate of source parameters for the strongest earthquake. We observed an unusual quiescence after the ML = 5.4 event, that lasted until December 16, when a ML = 4.6 earthquake occurred. The fault plane solution of this aftershock shows normal faulting on E-W trending planes. Between December 16 and January 6, 1991, a sequence of at least 300 aftershock" was recorded by the local network. The well located earthquakes define a small source region of approximately 5 x 2 x 5 km3, with hypocentral depths ranging between 15 and 20 km. The paucity of large aftershocks, the time gap between the main shock occurrence and the beginning of the aftershock sequence (3.5 days), their different focal mechanisms (strike-slip vs. normal), and the different stress drop between main shock and after- shock suggest that the ML = 5.4 earthquake is an isolated event. The sequence of aftershocks began with the ML = 4.6 event, which is probably linked to the main shock with a complex mechanism of stress redistribution after the main faulting episode.

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Amato, A., Azzara, R., Basili, A., Chiarabba, C., Cocco, M., Di Bona, M. and Selvaggi, G. (1995) “Main shock and aftershocks of the December 13, 1990, Eastern Sicily earthquake”, Annals of Geophysics, 38(2). doi: 10.4401/ag-4122.

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