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Stress change and effective friction coefficient along the Sumatra-Andaman-Sagaing fault system after the 26 December 2004 (Mw = 9.2) and the 28 March 2005 (Mw = 8.7) earthquakes

Stress change and effective friction coefficient along the Sumatra-Andaman-Sagaing fault system after the 26 December 2004 (Mw = 9.2) and the 28 March

Stress change and effective friction coefficient along the Sumatra-Andaman-Sagaing fault system after the 26 December 2004 (Mw = 9.2) and the 28 March 2005 (Mw = 8.7) earthquakes  
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The 2004 Aceh and 2005 Nias events are the two greatest earthquakes of the past 40 years with a total rupture of 1700 km long and a coseismic slip reaching up to 25 m. These two earthquakes have caused large stress perturbations which significantly altered seismic activity in the Sumatra-Andaman region. Using both detailed mapping of failure planes and various slip distributions, we calculate this stress change along the Sumatra-Andaman-Sagaing fault system from central Sumatra to southern Myanmar. The static Coulomb stress change ΔCFF and the observed seismic activity are in very good agreement with a Coulomb index ∼ 20% greater than the one obtained for random events. Compared to previous studies, this high Coulomb Index confirms two important issues on the use of static stress change criterion: unsuited to study near-field aftershocks and only relevant for aftershocks analysis on large and mature faults at a time scale of several months. The calculated ΔCFF distribution suggests that the 2004 and 2005 earthquakes inhibit failure on the North Andaman rift and on the Sagaing fault, while failure is encouraged along the transform Andaman zone, the central Andaman rift, the West Andaman fault, the Sumatra fault system, and the offshore thrust faults west of Sumatra Island. The maximum value of ∼15–20 bar (1.5–2 MPa) for ΔCFF is reached in the northern part of the Sumatra fault system. This high value together with the lack of major earthquake in the last 170 years result in a high seismic hazard for this region. Our results are also consistent with temporal evolution of both earthquakes’ location and focal mechanism prior to and after the events. In particular, we explain the occurrence and the mechanism of seismic swarms observed in the central Andaman rift and along the west Andaman fault. Finally, our calculations reveal that the seismicity in the Andaman rift zone can only be explained if μ′ > 0.5. This result leads to two end-member models: one with a constant and high fault friction and one with spatial variations, for which friction may depend on either the nature of the lithosphere (oceanic versus continental) or the fault type.
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