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Tracking the spatio-temporal evolution of foreshocks preceding the Mw 6.3 2009 L'Aquila Earthquake
  • Leoncio Cabrera,
  • Piero Poli,
  • William Benjamin Frank
Leoncio Cabrera
ISTerre Institut des Sciences de la Terre, CNRS, Université Grenoble Alpes

Corresponding Author:leonciocabrerac@gmail.com

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Piero Poli
Université Grenoble-Alpes, Isterre Laboratory, CNRS
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William Benjamin Frank
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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How faulting processes lead to a large earthquake is a fundamental question in seismology. To better constrain this pre-seismic stage, we create a dense seismic catalog via template matching to analyze the precursory phase of the Mw 6.3 L’Aquila earthquake that occurred in central Italy in 2009. We estimate several physical parameters in time, such as the coefficient of variation, the seismic moment release, the effective stress drop, and analyze spatio-temporal patterns to study the evolution of the sequence and the earthquake interactions. We observe that the precursory phase experiences multiple accelerations of the seismicity rate that we divide into two main sequences with different signatures and features: the first part exhibits weak earthquake interactions, quasi-continuous moment release, slow spatial migration patterns, and a lower effective stress drop, pointing to aseismic processes. The second sequence exhibits strong temporal clustering, rapid spatial expansion of the seismicity and larger effective stress drop typical of a stress transfer process. We interpret the differences in the seismicity behavior between the two sequences as distinct physical mechanisms that are controlled by different physical properties of the fault system. We conclude that the L’Aquila earthquake is preceded by a complex preparation, made up of different physical processes taking place over different time scales on faults with different physical properties.
Mar 2022Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth volume 127 issue 3. 10.1029/2021JB023888