The essential features of stress interaction among earthquakes on en echelon thrusts and tear faults were investigated, first through idealized examples and then by study of thrust faulting in Algeria. We calculated coseismic stress changes caused by the 2003 Mw = 6.9 Zemmouri earthquake, finding that a large majority of the Zemmouri afterslip sites were brought several bars closer to Coulomb failure by the coseismic stresses, while the majority of aftershock nodal planes were brought closer to failure by an average of ∼2 bars. Further, we calculated that the shallow portions of the adjacent Thenia tear fault, which sustained ∼0.25 m slip, were brought >2 bars closer to failure. We calculated that the Coulomb stress increased by 1.5 bars on the deeper portions of the adjacent Boumerdes thrust, which lies just 10-20 km from the city of Algiers; both the Boumerdes and Thenia faults were illuminated by aftershocks. Over the next 6 years, the entire south dipping thrust system extending 80 km to the southwest experienced an increased rate of seismicity. The stress also increased by 0.4 bar on the east Sahel thrust fault west of the Zemmouri rupture. Algiers suffered large damaging earthquakes in A.D. 1365 and 1716 and is today home to 3 million people. If these shocks occurred on the east Sahel fault and if it has a ∼2 mm/yr tectonic loading rate, then enough loading has accumulated to produce a Mw = 6.6-6.9 shock today. Thus, these potentially lethal faults need better understanding of their slip rate and earthquake history.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science