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Journal Article

Intermediate-depth earthquakes in southern Spain and Alboran Sea


López-Sánchez,  Carolina
External Organizations;

Buforn,  Elisa
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Cesca,  Simone
2.1 Physics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes, 2.0 Geophysics, Departments, GFZ Publication Database, Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum;

Lozano,  Lucía
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Sanz de Galdeano,  Carlos
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Mattesini,  Maurizio
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Udías,  Agustín
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Cantavella,  Juan Vicente
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López-Sánchez, C., Buforn, E., Cesca, S., Lozano, L., Sanz de Galdeano, C., Mattesini, M., Udías, A., Cantavella, J. V. (2022): Intermediate-depth earthquakes in southern Spain and Alboran Sea. - Tectonophysics, 825, 229238.

Cite as: https://gfzpublic.gfz-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_5011429
A striking feature of the seismicity in the Ibero-Maghrebian region is a narrow band of intermediate-depth earthquakes (50 < h < 100 km) beneath the western part of the Alboran Sea, with epicenters following a NNE-SSW alignment. The origin and characteristics of this seismicity are debated, and an accurate analysis of this seismic scenario is provided despite the low to moderate magnitude of these earthquakes. In this study, we collect 20 years of seismic data from permanent and temporary installations and reprocess these data with the aid of advanced seismological techniques, including non-linear probabilistic relocation with a 3D-Earth velocity model and a probabilistic moment tensor inversion scheme, to shed new light on intermediate-depth seismicity in Southern Spain and the Alboran Sea. We relocated 238 intermediate-depth earthquakes (M ≥ 3) using a nonlinear probabilistic approach and a recent regional 3D tomography lithospheric velocity model for the Alboran-Betic Rif Zone. Maximum likelihood hypocenters confirm the NNE-SSW distribution in a depth range between 50 and 100 km, depicting three clusters of epicenters with a seismic gap that may be correlate to the boundary between the sunken slabs of the Iberian and African plates around Gibraltar. We simultaneously determined the focal mechanisms of 25 mb > 3.9 earthquakes using P-waves and moment tensors by fitting body-wave amplitude spectra and waveform cross-correlations. We performed an accurate resolution study by repeating the inversion using different 1-D velocity models. The results show predominant horizontal T axes with a rotation on the direction from NE-SW in southern Spain to E-W near the African coast. The distribution of intermediate-depth earthquakes and their source geometries provide new evidence of the seismotectonic complexity of the region, which is possibly controlled by the stopping or slowing down of subduction.