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Tectonophysics, 148 (1988) 131-146 131

Elsevier Science Publishers B.V., Amsterdam - Printed in The Netherlands

Aftershocks of the western Argentina (Caucete) earthquake


of 23 November 1977: some tectonic implications

C-J. LANGER 1 and G.A. BOLLINGER ,

] U.S. Geological Survey, P.O. Box 25046-Mail Stop 966, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225 (U.S.A.)
* Department of Geological Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (U.S.A.)

(Received April 10,1987; revised version accepted August 14,1987)

Abstract

Langer, C.J. and Bolhnger, G.A., 1988. Aftershocks of the western Argentina (Caucete) earthquake of 23 November
1977: some tectonic implications. Tectonophysics, 148: 131-146.

An aftershock survey, using a network of eight portable and two permanent seismographs, was conducted for the
western Argentina (Caucete) earthquake (MS 7.3) of November 23, 1977. Monitoring began December 6, almost 2
weeks after the main shock and continued for 11 days. The data set includes 185 aftershock hypocenters that range in
the depth from near surface to more than 30 km. The spatial distribution of those events occupied a volume of about
100 km long ~50 km wide X30 km thick. The volumnar nature of the aftershock distribution is interpreted to be a
result of a bimodal distribution of foci that define east- and west-dipping planar zones. Efforts to select which of those
zones was associated with the causal faulting include special attention to the determination of the mainshock focal
depth and dislocation theory modeling of the coseismic surface deformation in the epicentral region. Our focal depth
(25-35 km) and modeling studies lead us to prefer an east-dipping plane as causal. A previous interpretation by other
investigators used a shallower focal depth (17 km) and similar modeling calculations in choosing a west-dipping plane.
Our selection of the east-dipping plane is physically more appealing because it places fault initiation at the base of the
crustal seismogenic layer (rather than in the middle of that layer) which requires fault propagation to be updip (rather
than downdip).

sequence, Kadinsky-Cade (1985) confirmed that


Introduction the earthquake was a double event composed of a
magnitude-6.8 (Ms) foreshock followed 20.8 s
The faulting associated with the western later by a magnitude-7.3 (Ms) main shock. Co-
Argentina (Caucete) earthquake of November 23, ordinates of the two events are approximately
1977, initiated at the northeast edge of the Sierra 31.15S, 67.78OW (foreshock) and 31.73OS,
Pie de Palo, a small mountain range in the western 67.75 W (mainshock) and define a north-south
Sierras de las Pampaenas (Fig. 1). Although origi- separation of some 65 km (Kadinsky-Cade, 1985,
nally thought to be a single Ms 7.4 earthquake fig. 1 herein). The focal depth of the foreshock is
(U.S. Geological Survey, 1977), the twin-event in- taken as 17 km, a value determined by Chinn and
terpretation for the November 23, 1977, main Isacks (1983) using synthetic seismogram match-
shock was first suggested by ST. Harding (U.S. ing of long-period P-waveforms. The main shock
Geological Survey, written commun., 1978) in San focal depth was estimated to be at 17 km (the
Juan, Argentina, at the April 30-May 4, 1979, same as the foreshock) by Kadinsky-Cade (1985),
United States-Argentina seminar presentation on also from P-waveform modeling. However, a sub-
source properties of the 1977 earthquake. Re- sequent interpretation of vertical, broad-band dig-
cently, in a detailed description of the mainshock ital data recorded by three seismic observatories

0040-1951/88/$03.50 Q 1988 Elsevier Science Publishers B.V.


132

24'

Fig. 1. A. Map of southwestern South America showing the principal tectonic provinces. Sierras de las Pampaenas are shown by
horizontal hatchures; the aftershock study area is enclosed by the rectangle. B. Map showing aftershock study area. Foreshock
epicenter (solid S-pointed star, northeast margin of Sierra Pie de Palo) and main shock epicenter (large 6-pointed star, due east of
Vallecito) are from Kadinsky-Cade (1985); asterisks indicate ISC teleseismically located aftershock epicenters determined from 50 or
more station readings, Nov.-Dec., 1977. Reverse fault focal mechanism solutions (equal area, lower hemisphere projections) and
numeric identifiers are from Chinn and Hacks (1983); foreshock (72) and largest aftershocks 11/28 (73) and 12/06 (74). Known
faults are shown by heavy solid lines; dashed where inferred. Hachures on down-dropped sides and Precambrian rocks in the Sierra
Pie de Palo are shown by pattern symbols from INPRES (1977) geologic map. Cities and villages are indicated by square symbols
and names.

(Chiang Mai, Thailand (CHTO); Mashhad, Iran Bermejo (Fig. l), a basin to the east that contains
(MAIO); and Matsushiro, Japan (MAJO)) and the more than 2 km of alluvial deposits. Considerable
Graefenberg, West Germany (GRF) array, all with new information about the seismicity, geology,
differing azimuths and distances from the western and tectonics of western Argentina including the
Argentina source, suggests strongly that the main region of the 1977 earthquake and adjacent areas
shock had a focal depth between 25 and 35 km has been published or reported recently (Unger,
(G.L. Choy, U.S. Geological Survey, written com- 1981; Chinn and Isacks, 1983; Jordan et al., 1983;
mun., 1987). Bastias and Weidmann, 1983; Baldis et al., 1984;
The earthquake occurred within the Sierras Whitney and Bastias, 1984; Kadinsky-Cade, 1985;
Pampeanas tectonic province, a region described Kadinsky-Cade et al., 1985; Reilinger and Kadin-
by Jordan and Allmendinger (1986) as a series of sky-Cade, 1985; Jordan and Allmendinger, 1986;
north-trending mountain ranges, separated by H. Bastias, written commun., 1987; and Bollinger
wide, flat basins, that override the nearly horizon- and Langer 1988).
tally subducted Nazca plate. Structurally, the 1977 Both the geology (e.g., basement uplift and
earthquake sequence is associated with an uplift of stratigraphic offset on faults) and the seismology
Precambrian metamorphic and intrusive rocks with (focal mechanism solutions) are compatible with
about 2.2 km of vertical relief, and the Valle de1 east-west compressional stress producing mod-
MAY (Marayes) 09 DEC 77
2104 UTC !

BRR ( Bermejo ) 11 DEC 77


1700 UTC

Fig. 2. Example seismograms of aftershocks recorded at stations MAY and BRR, see Fig. 3 for station locations. Each seismogram is
a 48-h record, drum speed was 10 min per revolution (60 mm/min) with a trace separation of 1 mm.
134

erate to high-angle, reverse-slip faulting for the Instrumentation and data analysis
shallow (less than 70 km) intraplate earthquakes.
In the western Sierras de las Pampeanas, including Aftershocks were recorded by a temporary net-
the Sierra Pie de Palo, those reverse faults are work that consisted of eight U.S. Geological Survey
predominantly east-dipping. Focal mechanism (USGS) vertical component, smoked-paper seis-
solutions for the 1977 foreshock and two of the mographs augmented by two permanent INPRES
larger aftershocks shown in Fig. 1 exhibit reverse- (Instituto National de Prevention Sismica) seis-
faulting on northerly trending nodal planes (Chinn mograph stations. Network operation was con-
and Isacks, 1983). Mechanisms of 11 previous tinuous from December 6 through December 17,
well-located shallow earthquakes in or near the 1977. Table 1 lists the station coordinates and
Andes and south of 18S latitude indicate similar periods of operation and Fig. 3 shows the station
solutions (Stauder, 1973; Chinn and Isacks 1983). distribution relative to the aftershock epicenters.
In this paper we present the results of an Precise time corrections at all network stations
aftershock study based on local data from a ten- were determined by comparing UTC radio time
station seismograph network. The complete net- transmissions (WWV or LOL) with recorder clock
work was not in-place until about two weeks after times during record changes. Clock drift usually
the main shock, and thus did not monitor the did not exceed 20 ms/day. System magnifications
earliest portions of the aftershock sequence. The of the USGS seismographs were generally low for
network operated for almost 11 days, recorded post-earthquake monitoring, ranging between
several thousand aftershocks, and provided a large about 30K and 60K at 10 Hz. The amplifier gains
amount of high-quality data from which to select were limited at four stations because they were
events for study (see Fig. 2 for example seismo- sited on alluvial deposits and close to cultural
grams). noise sources. But, owing to the intense aftershock
The objectives of our study are: (1) to locate activity including numerous aftershocks of magni-
accurately a subset of the aftershock hypocenters tude > 2.0, the low magnification levels posed no
considered to be representative of the later portion problem. Peak-to-peak deflections of the recorder
of the aftershock sequence; and from those results styli were limited at 10 mm to help minimize
(2) infer the tectonic features of the Sierra Pie de recorded aftershocks from over-writing each other
Palo and Valle de1 Bermejo associated with the (Fig. 2). The photographically recorded seismo-
foreshock/main shock/aftershock series. Focal grams from two permanent INPRES stations (SAJ
mechanism solutions and intermediate depth in San Juan and CFA near Coronel Fontana) were
events are discussed only briefly. particularly useful because they provided short-

TABLE 1

Coordinates for aftershock study seismograph stations

Name Station Lat. Long. Elevation Period of


(OS) (W Cm) Operation
Bermejo BBB 31O34.14 61 37.86 603 Dec. 9-17
Coronel Fontana CFA 31O36.42 68O14.34 621 permanent
Chucuma CHU 31OO6.12 67 O15.06 835 Dec. 5-17
Marayes MAY 31O31.68 61 o 20.28 707 Dec. 6-17
Mogna MOG 30 O41.64 68O18.00 125 Dec. 5-17
San Juan SAJ * 31O31.57 68 o 33.48 689 permanent
San Miguel SAM 32O12.30 67O 35.34 500 Dec. 6-18
Usno SNO 30 o 34.32 6131.92 915 Dec. 6-17
Vallecito VIC 31O44.28 6157.90 700 Dec. 6-18
Cerro Villicun VIL 31 O19.80 68O28.14 690 Dec. 5-17
-
* Wood-Anderson seismograph operated by INPRES (Instituto National de Prevention Sismica) in San Juan.
32

KILOMETERS

Fig. 3. Map of aftershock epicenters (open circles) determined from locally recorded data. Seismograph stations are shown by open
triangles with center dot and three-letter station codes. Epicenters of intermediate depth events (aftershocks deeper than 100 km) are
shown by solid dots (two of these events are off the west side of the figure). Locations of two orthogonal sets of hypocentral cross
sections are given by A-A', B-B, and C-C, D-D. Note that B-B and D-D are subparallel to the two dominant fault trends in
the area. Other symbols same as for Fig. 1.

period horizontal data to aid in determining accu- racy of most P-wave times is considered to be
rate S-wave arrival times. within +0.05 s; the S-wave readings from SAJ
To maintain uniformity and internal con- and CFA records are believed accurate to f0.25 s
sistency of phase-arrival time picks, one person and from the temporary stations, the selected S-
measured all first motion times of the located phase times are probably accurate to &0.40 s.
aftershocks. S-phases from seismograms of the Because the amplitudes of the strong signals
temporary stations (vertical seismometers only) were clipped, aftershock magnitudes, Mu, were
were identified by the abrupt changes in ampli- estimated by the signal duration method of Lee et
tude and/or period of the seismic signal. Accu- al. (1972). Even though the duration magnitude
136

equation used the parameters derived for Cali- data. The average root-mean-square (RMS) error
fornia earthquakes, not being adjusted for the of the travel-time residuals was 0.12 s; averages of
Argentine hypocentral locale, it does standardize the standard hypocentral errors indicated +0.7
the relative size of events for this study. km for the horizontal and 51.5 km in depth
To select the aftershocks used for our study (ERH and ERZ, respectively, in the HYP071
from the large number of recorded events, we standard error statistics). Although these ex-
applied the following arbitrary criteria: (1) the pressed standard errors do not represent actual
aftershock had to be large enough to be clearly error limits (Boyd and Snoke, 1984) use of S-phase
recorded at the distant station, SNO (a good sig- data, as discussed later, improve the location accu-
nal level at that outlying location usually assured racy. Distribution of the HYP071 solution quality
that the aftershock had sufficient energy to be well measures are: (A) 16% (B) 56% and (C) 28%.
recorded at most or all of the other network Thus, more than 70% of the solutions are rated as
stations), and (2) clear S-wave arrivals from the good to excellent.
aftershock had to be recorded at CFA and/or To characterize the reliability of the aftershock
SAJ as well as at least two other stations with focal depths, values of ~nimum station-to-epi-
good azimuthal separation (usually CHU, VIC, or center distance/depth of focus ( Dti,/Dfoc) were
VIL; see Fig. 3). The above procedure resulted in calculated and averaged for depth intervals of O-5
the selection of 270 aftershocks as candidates for km, 5-10 km, and > 10.0 km (Table 2a). The
analysis. deepest interval (> 10.0 km) contains 142 (77%) of
Of the 270 selected events, acceptable hypo- the accepted aftershock locations and has an aver-
centers (RMS G 0.25 s, ERH < 2.0 km, ERZ Q 4.0 age Dti,/Df,ratio of 1.28. Although Lee et al.
km) were determined by HYP071 (Lee and Lahr, (1971) and Lee and Stewart (1981) require a
1975) for 185 aftershocks and nine intermediate- De/D%, of less than 1.0 for reliable focal
depth earthquakes (a listing of the various loca- depths, the basis for their statement is predicated
tion parameters and error measures for all 194 on hypocenters computed by P-arrival times only.
shocks is given in Bollinger and Langer, 1988). Buland (1976) states that the use of S data, com-
With two exceptions, the hypocenters were com- bined with their corresponding P-times, improves
puted using at least eight P-phase and two S-phase the quality of earthquake hypocenters. For

TABLE 2

Aftershock depth statistics

(a) Comparison of average and spread of L&,/I), and ERZ 2 against depth intervals of hypocenters-all aftershocks

Depth interval Number of &iJD,, ERZ (&km)


(km) aftershocks
average spread average spread

0-d 5.0 12 22.06 6.88-36.25 2.36 0.85-3.63


5.0- Q 10.0 31 5.56 0.75 9.66 1.57 0.73-4.00
> 10.0 142 1.28 0.03- 3.49 1.38 0.18-3.99
(b) Comparison of average and spread of ERZ against D,&D, intervals-ah aftershocks

Dti,/%x Number of ERZ(ztkm)


interval (km) aftershocks
average spread

O-6 1.0 60 0.73 0.19- 2.50


1.0-d 2.0 60 1.63 0.38- 3.99
2.0-d 10.0 54 1.83 0.73- 4.00
> 10.0 11 2.40 0.8% 3.63

Din/Of, = minimum station-to-epicenter distance/depth of focus.


2 ERZ = HYPO71 depth standard error.
137

TABLE 3 and station corrections developed by Bollinger


P-wave velocity model-Sierra Pie de Palo region in western and Langer (1988) for the network. Given the
Argentina (from Bollinger and Langer, 1988) extreme variation (O-6 km) of the thickness of the
sediments beneath the network seismographs and
P-wave velocity Thickness Depth to top
(km) of layer (km) the local geologic and physiographic complexities,
(km/s)
2.87 2.4 0
that model development was no trivial task. Basi-
5.88 7.6 2.4 cally, the procedure consisted of determining an
6.2 22.0 10.0 average two-layer, lo-km thick sedimentary and
1.3 23.0 32.0 upper basement velocity structure (from shallow
8.1 half-space 55.0
refraction measurements) and combining that with
v&,/v, = 1.70. Volponis (1968) middle and lower crust velocity
and thickness estimates along with J.C. Castanos
(oral commun., 1977) estimates of the upper man-
locating earthquakes within or just outside small tle velocity and total crustal thickness. Addition-
networks, Uhrhammer (1980) has demonstrated ally, individual station corrections were de-
the importance of S data, particularly when the termined to account for systematic traveltime dif-
S-times are from peripheral stations. Through ex- ferences at each station site resulting from (1) the
amination of the earthquake location problem, average velocity model and (2) unknown
Ellsworth and Roecker (1981) conclude that be- sources. Those corrections incorporated the aver-
cause S waves add information that can not be age HYPO71 travel-time residuals from selected,
replicated by P waves considerable improvement well-recorded events together with the difference,
in the control of hypocenter parameters results at each station, between known (from refraction
from a mix of P- and S-wave data. We do not data) and model (average) one-way vertical
disagree that, in principal, if D,&Q, < 1.0, focal travel times. Serious error in locations is probably
depths will be better determined than if D,,,JD, absent as indicated by the aforementioned error
> 1.0. Nevertheless, if good quality S data are and quality measures for the aftershock hypo-
used in conjunction with P data, the resultant centers and the internal consistency of our results.
hypocentral locations are probably reliable even if
the D,,,JDf, ratio is somewhat greater than 1.0.
Intermediate depth earthquakes
Some measure of depth reliability may also be
indicated by the values of ERZ listed in Bollinger
and Langer (1988). Averages of ERZ were con- Nine earthquakes with depths between 110 km
trasted against the three depth intervals and aver- and 135 km were located during this study. Fig-
age values of D,,,JDf, in Table 2(a) and, against ures 3, 4, and 5 show those hypocenters clearly
four intervals of D,,/D, in Table 2(b). Even separated in depth (about 70 km) from the
though results of the comparison are not conclu- aftershock volume. These intermediate depth
sive, they do show that, for the aftershocks studied, shocks are associated with the flat segment (dip
ERZ as well as Dti,/Df, tend to minimize with of about 10E) of a major seismic zone related to
increasing depth. Table 2 suggests then that most the Nazca plate and beneath the study area.
hypocenters below 10 km have dependable depth According to Barazangi and Isacks (1976) that
constraints and that there are also some hypo- zone occurs within the descending lithosphere.
centers above 10 km that may be useful for inter- They show a vertical section (D-D in their Fig. 4)
pretating the spatial characteristics of the in which earthquakes cluster in depth intervals of
aftershocks. about 20-60 km and 80-130 km that is within a
Any systematic locational error or bias is most horizontal range of approximately 50 km on either
likely the result of network geometry coupled with side (E-W) of the 1977 aftershock region. Thus,
the inadequacies of the four-layer over a half-space aftershocks of the 1977 event and the intermediate
P-wave velocity model (Table 3), the V,/V, ratio, depth earthquakes are in the same general depth
138

A DISTANCE (KY) A
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180
I

20 -

40-

ii 60c
Y
c

: 801
n
w
0

100 -

t
. .
. . .
120 - .

.
140-

B DISTANCE (KM) B
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140

NO.
40 - x I
po -
Y

ES0 -
n

:
100 -

. . .
0 . l*
120 - .

140 -

I *

Fig. 4. Vertical section plots of hypocenters along sections A-A (top) and B-B (bottom). Inset shows histograms for ERH and
ERZ in kilometers (HYP071; Lee and Lahr, 1975). See Fig. 3 for locations of section lines. Symbols: solid five-pointed star is
foreshock hypocenter; solid six-pointed star is main shock hypocenter; open circles denote aftershock hypocenters and solid dots are
for intermediate depth foci. No vertical exaggeration.
139

intervals (2-35 km and 110-135 km). The cor- earthquakes, between the selected data set of
respondence, both in depth range and spatial sep- Barazangi and Isacks (1976) and our aftershock
aration for shallow and intermediate depth data set helps support our arguments that the

c DISTANCE (KM) c

40 - o
0
0

s 6o
Y

= 80 -

iii
0
100 -

l * .
. . . l
120 -
.

140 -

LJ DISTANCE (KM) D
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160 180
0
I I I I I

20 -

g60 -
Y

=80-
0
w -
0
100 -

- . . .
. . .
120 -
.

.
140 -

Fig. 5. Vertical section plots of hypocenters along sections C-C (top) and D-D (bottom). See Fig. 3 for the locations of
cross-section lines and Fig. 4 for histograms for ERH and ERZ in kilometers (HYPO71; Lee and Lahr, 1975). Symbols are same as in
Fig. 4. No vertical exaggeration.
140

velocity model values determined by Bollinger and Source size: fault length, rupture area and source
Langer (1988) are reasonable. volume

St&e of stress and earthquake focaI mechanisms The 65 km separation of the two shocks com-
The Sierra Pie de Palo epicentral area is within posing the double mainshock constitute one esti-
a broad region of central Chile and western mate of the fault length associated with this event.
Argentina where the crust is being compressed in However, that estimate is probably minimal be-
an east-west direction. From the alignment of cause it does not account for any faulting beyond
earthquake focal mechanism P-axes, Stauder the terrnini of the line defined by the two epi-
(1975) showed much of Peru to be in east-west centers.
compression. Chinn and Isacks (1983) presented The principal spatial characteristics of the 185
focal mechanisms for earthquakes located outside aftershocks are illustrated in Figs. 3, 4, and 5.
Peru that indicate east-west compression in west- Figure 3 shows that most of the aftershock activity
em South America, and, in particular, reverse- is between the foreshock and the main shock. The
faulting mechanisms on northerly-stung planes spatial pattern of hypocenters in cross section
(Fig. 1) for the November 23, 1977 foreshock and (Figs. 4 and 5) does not immediately suggest a
two large aftershocks (Ms 5.8 on November 28 planar distribution but rather defines a complex
and h4s 5.9 on December 6). Chinn and Isacks volume about 30 km (Z) by 50 km (E-W) by 100
(1983) also reported a similar (reverse faulting) km (N-S). The north-south dimension constitutes
focal mechanism for the Ms 6.0, September 26, another estimate of the fault length which in this
1972 earthquake in the Sierra Pie de Palo locale. case, may be over estimated because it might
In Jordan et al. (1983), Andean tectonics is include faulting at the ends that was not part of
studied in relation to the geometry of the sub- the mainshock process.
ducted Nazca plate. They noted that the distribu- Note that the seismic source volume is situated
tion of the crustal seismicity is similar to the somewhat asy~et~caBy with respect to the
patterns of the Pliocene-Pleistocene geologic surface expression of the Sierra Pie de Palo, that
structures. They interpret this similarity to imply is, roughly 37% of the aftershock volume (contain-
that the Neogene deformation of the Andes is ing about 80 or 43% of the hypocenters) is within
continuing today. the eastern half of the mountain; the remaining
With respect to the area of this aftershock aftershocks are located to the east in the Valle de1
study, Jordan et al. (1983) and Jordan and Bermejo. The Sierra Pie de Palo possesses a rather
Allmendinger (1986) compared it to the area of high degree of north-south sy~et~ and, with
Laramide-age deformation in North America, one exception, the western half of the feature is
pointing out that Pliocene-Pleistocene uplifts of void of aftershock seismicity. The 34 ISC locations
the crystalline basement (the Sierra Pie de Palo as (Fig. 1) also show the same general pattern as our
an example) took place on reverse-faults in the aftershocks but appear to be concentrated more to
Pampean Ranges. They also observed that, above the east. Only about 25% of the ISC epicenters are
the flat segments of the subducting Nazca plate beneath the surface expression of the Sierra Pie de
and east of the Andes, both the geology and the Palo.
seismicity indicate horizontal compression due to There are relatively few hypocenters in the 10
plate convergence as far as about 800 km from the to 25 km depth range (Figs. 4 and 5) resulting in
trench. Recent field observations by R.A. Whitney a pattern with a hollow zone in vertical section.
(Mackey School of Mines, Reno, Nevada, written This hollow zone may define a region of nearly
commun., 1986) and H.E. Bastias (written com- complete strain relaxation about the mainshock.
mun., 1987) show the west side of the Valle de1 For such a case, the causal fault displacement
Bermejo being thrust against the east flank of the would occur in a ~~y-str~n~ inner-zone with
Sierra Pie de Palo, providing additional evidence the later aftershocks occurring on the periphery of
of east-west compression in the epicentral region. that zone. Aftershocks in the outer-zone would
141

be due to strain from the dynamic loading brought and Utsu (1969) overestimated the source dimen-
about by the initial shock, perhaps in conjunction sions.)
with the ambient stress field. Similar examples Estimating a fault plane area based on the
have been cited by King et al. (1985) for dip-slip maximum dimensions of the 1977 aftershock zone,
(normal) faulting in the Gulf of Corinth and Ouyed (Figs. 3 and 4) gives values (3000-4000 km) that
et al. (1983) for dip-slip (reverse) faulting near El are two to three times larger than the area pre-
Asnam, Algeria. Alternatively, the observed hol- dicted by the magnitude-fault area relationships.
low effect may be the result of crustal strength or Outward migration of aftershocks with time
rheology variations with depth. and/or the occurrence of aftershocks related to
Statistical correlations between earthquake secondary faulting could, and probably did in-
magnitude and surface fault rupture have been crease the extent of the aftershock zone. Using
made by Slemmons (1977) and Mark and Bonilla lower magnitude shocks (M, as small as 2.1 in
(1977) and refined recently by Bonilla et al. (1984). this study) than those used to derive the magni-
But these relationships were developed using tude-fault plane area relations would also result in
surface measurements of fault length and thus an enlarged aftershock area being considered.
cannot be directly applied to the 1977 Argentina
earthquake owing to the almost complete absence Source geometry: dips of the fault planes
of surface fault rupture (refer to Whitney and
Bastias, 1984, for a brief description of 1977 fault In vertical dip-section (Fig. 4, A-A), the
displacement). Wyss (1979) suggested that the use aftershock foci strongly suggest a bifurcating dis-
of fault area (A in km2) rather than only consider- tribution with east- and west-dipping branches.
ing length would improve magnitude estimates. In These branches extend to depths of more than 30
developing his preferred equation, M = 4.15 + log km from their juncture at about 15 km in depth.
A for M > 5.6, he advocated defining the fault The two nodal planes in each of the three focal
plane area by using the length of surface ruptures, mechanisms developed for events in this sequence
the spatial extent of aftershocks, analyses of (Fig. 1) have east and west dips that generally
seismic body and surface waves, and static dislo- agree with the aftershock distribution and thereby
cation modeling of geodetic displacements. Sir@ suggest that multiple faults dipping in both direc-
et al. (1980) refined and added to Wyss data and, tions were active.
using the basic premise of Wyss (1979) extended The question remains, however, as to the mech-
the magnitude-fault area statistics to include anics of the doublet mainshock fault(s) and its
specific magnitudes of Ms and Mw. Their linear direction of dip. Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985)
regression of magnitude versus area results in the studied the observed 1 m of coseismic uplift asso-
expression Ms = a + b log A where the preferred ciated with the earthquake using Volponis (1979)
value for a = 4.402 and b = 0.929. The equations data from an approximate east-west level-line
developed in the Wyss, Singh et al. studies predict survey that was diverted around the south end of
that the magnitude 7.3 (MS) Argentine mainshock the Sierra Pie de Palo. Applying the dislocation
and the magnitude 6.8 (MS) foreshock could rup- modeling technique of Savage and Hastie (1966)
ture faults with areas of about 1300-1400 km2 that uses measured surficial deformation to esti-
and 350-450 km2, respectively. Similar rupture mate the geometry and displacement of a buried
areas result from Utsus (1969) relationship be- fault, Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985) and Reilinger
tween average aftershock area (excluding swarms), and Kadinsky-Cade (1985) conclude that the MS
.&, and the mainshock magnitude, M, where 7.3 mainshock was accompanied by nearly 4 m of
M, = 4.1 + log A,. (Wyss study is virtually inde- reverse slip on a buried, north-striking ( - N2 W)
pendent of Utsus work in that only 11 of the 83 fault. They used a subset (108) of our 185
magnitude-area measurements used by Wyss were aftershock locations to help guide the placement
derived from Utsu (1969); Wyss believed that the and size of their proposed fault which they de-
aftershock zone as defined by Utsu and Seki (1955) fined as 80 km long X 24 km wide (area = 1920
142

km*) and dipping west at 35 from 17 km to focal depths (both 17 km) to be accurate to *5
some 30 km in depth (see Kadinsky-Cade et al., km, they judged the direction of fault propagation
1985, their figs. 6 and 7). Addition~ly, Kadinsky- to be non-critical.
Cade et al. (1985) discuss attempts to model a (2) There is an offset of about 10 km between
conjugate east-dipping fault, and found that their their proposed fault plane and the more easterly
west-dipping plane fit the asymmetry of observed located hypocenter for the mainshock. They con-
uplift (steeper on the east side) better than an clude that the 10 km offset might not be real
east-dipping plane. However, they noted two diffi- owing to uncertainty in their location and non-
culties posed by the west-dip-fault model: uniqueness in the matching of a fault model to a
(1) Fault rupture must be downdip from an single leveling line.
initiation point at about 17 km deep and near the Thus, Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985) primarily
middle of the seismogenic layer. supported a west-dipping fault on the basis of the
Most large earthquake faults are observed to match between their model results and the mea-
rupture updip from near the base of the seismo- sured uplift pattern.
genie layer (Das and Seholtz, 1983; Sibson, 1982; Note, that a focal depth for the mainshock
Smith and Richins, 1984). Because Kadinsky-Cade of 25-35 km, from the analysis of broad-band
et al. (1985) estimated their mainshock doublet data (Choy, written commun., 1987) rather than

30.8C 6 7. ZOO

ct-luv

VIL

0 I I
30 km J_
B
(a)

Fig. 6. (a) Epicenter map and (b) vertical section plots of hypocenters showing interpreted east-dipping (53O) fault striking NO9OE
(rectangular box and heavy line). Aftershock symbols indicate magnitude (M,) intervals where triangles = 2-2.9, circles = 3-3.9, and
squares = 4-4.9; five and six pointed stars are foreshock and preferred location of main shock, respectively.
143

A DIST (KM)

(b,)

B DIST (KM) B

40.0 00

0
50.0 (b$
0

Fig. 6b.

the 17 km of Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985), places it slip on a near vertical plane. Later Stauder and
at the base of the east-dipping aftershock distribu- Bollinger (1966) used virtually the same data and
tion rather than at the top of the belt-dipping modeling technique to show that a shallow-dip-
aftershock foci (Fig. 6). Because that basal loca- ping thrust fault was an equally valid interpreta-
tion is more in accord with known observations, tion of the deformational data.
we were motivated to perform ad~tion~ model- Results of our modeling calculations shown in
ing calculations for the coseismic uplift data. Fig. 7 are for a uniform reverse displacement of
Modeling surface deformation using dislocation 4.9 m over the entire surface of a rectangular,
theory is intrinsically non-u~que. A classic exam- eat-~pp~g fault plane 60 km long by 18 km
ple of this characteristic was presented by Stauder wide with its upper boundary at 14 km below the
and Bollinger (1966) in their study of the 1964, surface (see Fig. 6). We also employed dislocation
Ms 8.3 Alaskan earthquake. Applying dislocation theory using an algorithm similar but more versa-
theory to Plafkers (1965) measurements of surface tile than the one developed by Savage and Hastie
deformation, Press (1965) and Press and Jackson (1966), as had Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985). There
(1965) inferred the causal fault motion to be dip- are slight differences in the results from the two
144

-100
loo-
EAST EDGE OF
SIERRA PIE DE PALO
j
+ SO- - SO

H
9
p 60- -60

: 40- -40

9 WEST EDGE OF
I= 20- SIERRA PIE DE PALO
r!
L

O-

--20
I 1 1 I I I I 1 I I I I I
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 SO so 100 110 120
DISTANCE Ikml

Fig. 7. Comparison of modeled vertical deformation based on dislocation theory. Solid dots are observed elevation changes from the
leveling surveys (Volponi, 1979) described by Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985). The long dash-short dash curve is from a west-dipping
fault described by Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985) in their fig. 6; the dashed curve shows results obtained using the same west-dipping
fault parameters in our dislocation modeling program; the solid curve indicates our results from east-dipping fault model.

algorithms (shown in Fig. 7) but they are negligi- the 1 m of coseismic uplift measured by leveling
ble. We judge that our fit to the level-line data surveys.
using an east-dipping plane ( - 53 ) is much bet- (3) We interpret the west-dipping aftershock
ter than Kadinsky-Cade et al. (1985) fit for their foci to be associated with secondary faulting and
east-dipping plane. We also judge that our results conjugate with the causal fault. We do recognize,
are as good as those for Kadinsky-Cades west- however, that it is possible for those foci, either by
dipping planes fit, except for the agreement with themselves or in combination with the easterly
the two most extreme uplift values. Our fit is dipping activity, to be associated with some part
certainly adequate to demonstrate that an east- of the causal faulting.
dipping causal fault is a viable candidate for the (4) The selection of the direction of dip for the
source fault of this double earthquake. mainshock faulting depends on whether primary
emphasis is placed on (1) its focal depth, which
Conclusions determines location of initiation of faulting within
the seismogenic crust and updip or downdip rup-
The results from our portable network study of ture propagation or (2) on the fidelity achieved in
the aftershock sequence following the November modeling the observations of its associated surface
23, 1977, Caucete, Argentina earthquake plus a deformation. We choose the former, which leads
revised estimate of the mainshock focal depth lead to a causal east dip, while Kadinsky-Cade et al.
us to propose the following conclusions: chose the latter which requires a westerly dip.
(1) In vertical dip-section, the aftershock foci
exhibit a bifurcated distribution with the branches Acknowledgmenk
dipping to the east and to the west.
(2) We interpret the east-dipping aftershock Our appreciation is extended to the Instituto
foci to be associated with the causal fault for the National de Prevention Sismica (INPRES) and all
mainshock of this doublet earthquake and for personnel who gave their time and resources dur-
the faulting to have ruptured updip from an ini- ing the field study. We are particularly indebted to
tiation depth of 25-35 km. This faulting caused Ing. Julio Aguirre Ruiz, Director, and Dr. Juan C.
145

Castano, staff seismologist, for their assistance in INPRES (Instituto National de Prevention Sismica), 1977. El
arranging and providing the necessary scientific terremoto de San Juan de1 23 de Noviembre de 1977,
Informe Preliminar. Republica Argentina, San Juan, 103
and logistical support. We are also grateful to S.T.
PP.
Algermissen for his endeavors in coordinating this Jordan, T.E. and Allmendinger, R.W., 1986. The Sierras
joint U.S.-Argentine post-earthquake research ef- Pampeanas of Argentina: a modem analogue of Rocky
fort. Mountain foreland deformation. Am. J. Sci., 276: 737-764.
The authors express gratitude to J.P. Whitcomb Jordan, T.E., Isacks, B.L., Alhnendinger, R.W., Brewer, J.A.,

and R.F. Henrisey for their work in the field and Ramos, V.A. and Ando, C.J., 1983. Andean tectonics related
to geometry of subducted Nazca plate. Geol. Sot. Am
to Martha Adams, who carefully read and
Bull., 94: 341-361.
processed the seismic data. We are also indebted Kadinsky-Cade, K., 1985. Seismotectonics of the Chile margin
to George Choy for his time and efforts in de- and the 1977 Caucete earthquake of western Argentina. Ph.
termining the main shock focal depth. E. Crans- D. thesis, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, N.Y., 253 pp.
wick and A.J. Crone critically reviewed the Kadinsky-Cade, K., Reilinger, R. and Isacks, B.L., 1985.
Surface deformation associated with the November 23,
manuscript, giving a generous amount of time in
1977, Caucete, Argentina earthquake sequence. J. Geophys.
making constructive suggestions.
Res., 90: 12691-12700.
King, G.C.P., Onyang, Z.X., Papadimitriou, P., Deschamps,
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