Earthquake in Chile: Deployment of the German Earthquake Task Force Further big quakes may be expected in future
On Monday, 19.11.2007, a team of scientists from the "German Earthquake Task Force" will travel to the earthquake-affected area of Northern Chile. The seismologists, from the GFZ Potsdam (an institute of the Helmholtz Association), will be monitoring aftershocks and mapping the resulting surface deformation.
The first aftershocks provided details about the main rupture process, which began south of the harbour city of Tocopila, and continued in a southerly direction towards Mejillones Peninsula. This peninsular acts as a tectonic boundary, separating the current event's rupture from that of the 1995 Antofagasta earthquake (magnitude 8.0). The recent event was a continuation of the seismic activity that occurs along a ca. 600 km long segment of seismicity running from north of Mejillones Peninsula to the Peruvian boarder. This segment is labelled in the literature as a "mature" seismic cavity, where another large earthquake is expected. Through the analysis of the still-occurring aftershocks, the scientists will be able to determine the size of the fracturing and the redistribution of stress. Generally, additional stresses will build up at the end of the rupture zone, that are then released by a later earthquake.
The deployed group (including scientists from the University of Potsdam) will collaborate in the affected area with Chilean and French partners. The GFZ scientists alone will take with them some 2 tonnes of equipment.