In DepthSeismology

Underwater network hunts for mysterious slow quakes

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Science  03 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, pp. 577
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6363.577

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Summary

Next week, researchers from Mexico and Japan will embark on a cruise to place seismometers and GPS stations on the sea floor off the Mexican state of Guerrero. The new network will study the Guerrero gap, a 130-kilometer stretch of coast that has been seismically silent for more than 100 years. Scientists have long feared that the accumulated energy there could one day unleash an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or more. But recently, a new hypothesis has emerged: Perhaps most of the Guerrero gap's pressure has already been relieved by puzzling "slow slip events," in which swaths of Earth's crust shift by several centimeters—not in seconds, as in ordinary earthquakes, but over weeks or months. Scientists hope the new network will help them understand the effect of slow slip events on Mexico's earthquake risk.