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A Great Earthquake Rupture Across a Rapidly Evolving Three-Plate Boundary

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Science  10 Apr 2009:
Vol. 324, Issue 5924, pp. 226-229
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167476

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Abstract

On 1 April 2007 a great, tsunamigenic earthquake (moment magnitude 8.1) ruptured the Solomon Islands subduction zone at the triple junction where the Australia and Solomon Sea–Woodlark Basin plates simultaneously underthrust the Pacific plate with different slip directions. The associated abrupt change in slip direction during the great earthquake drove convergent anelastic deformation of the upper Pacific plate, which generated localized uplift in the forearc above the subducting Simbo fault, potentially amplifying local tsunami amplitude. Elastic deformation during the seismic cycle appears to be primarily accommodated by the overriding Pacific forearc. This earthquake demonstrates the seismogenic potential of extremely young subducting oceanic lithosphere, the ability of ruptures to traverse substantial geologic boundaries, and the consequences of complex coseismic slip for uplift and tsunamigenesis.

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