Since their discovery two decades ago1,2, slow slip events have been shown to play an important role in accommodating strain in subduction zones. However, the physical mechanisms that generate slow slip and the relationships with earthquakes are unclear. Slow slip events have been recorded in the Guerrero segment of the Cocos–North America subduction zone2,3. Here we use inversion of position time series recorded by a continuous GPS network to reconstruct the evolution of aseismic slip on the subduction interface of the Guerrero segment. We find that a slow slip event began in February 2014, two months before the magnitude (Mw) 7.3 Papanoa earthquake on 18 April. The slow slip event initiated in a region adjacent to the earthquake hypocentre and extended into the vicinity of the seismogenic zone. This spatio-temporal proximity strongly suggests that the Papanoa earthquake was triggered by the ongoing slow slip event. We demonstrate that the triggering mechanism could be either static stress increases in the hypocentral region, as revealed by Coulomb stress modelling, or enhanced weakening of the earthquake hypocentral area by the slow slip. We also show that the plate interface in the Guerrero area is highly coupled between slow slip events, and that most of the accumulated strain is released aseismically during the slow slip episodes.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Dragert, H., Wang, K. & James, T. S. A silent slip event on the deeper Cascadia subduction interface. Science 292, 1525–1528 (2001).
Kostoglodov, V. et al. A large silent earthquake in the Guerrero seismic gap, Mexico. Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, 1807 (2003).
Radiguet, M. et al. Slow slip events and strain accumulation in the Guerrero gap, Mexico. J. Geophys. Res. 117, B04305 (2012).
Beroza, G. C. & Ide, S. Slow earthquakes and nonvolcanic tremor. Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 39, 271–296 (2011).
Mazzotti, S. & Adams, J. Variability of near-term probability for the next great earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 94, 1954–1959 (2004).
Ito, Y. et al. Episodic slow slip events in the Japan subduction zone before the 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. Tectonophysics 600, 14–26 (2013).
Graham, S. E. et al. GPS constraints on the Mw = 7.5 Ometepec earthquake sequence, southern Mexico: coseismic and post-seismic deformation. Geophys. J. Int. 199, 200–218 (2014).
Kato, A. et al. Propagation of slow slip leading up to the 2011 Mw 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake. Science 335, 705–708 (2012).
Zigone, D. et al. Triggering of tremors and slow slip event in Guerrero, Mexico, by the 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule, Chile, earthquake. J. Geophys. Res. 117, B09304 (2012).
Itaba, S. & Ando, R. A slow slip event triggered by teleseismic surface waves. Geophys. Res. Lett. 38, L21306 (2011).
Perfettini, H. & Ampuero, J. P. Dynamics of a velocity strengthening fault region: implications for slow earthquakes and postseismic slip. J. Geophys. Res. 113, B09411 (2008).
Wallace, L. M., Bartlow, N., Hamling, I. & Fry, B. Quake clamps down on slow slip. Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 8840–8846 (2014).
Ozawa, S., Suito, H. & Tobita, M. Occurrence of quasi-periodic slow-slip off the east coast of the Boso peninsula, central Japan. Earth Planets Space 59, 1241–1245 (2007).
Vergnolle, M. et al. Slow slip events in Mexico revised from the processing of 11-year GPS observations. J. Geophys. Res. 115, B08403 (2010).
Liu, Y., Rice, J. & Larson, K. Seismicity variations associated with aseismic transients in Guerrero, Mexico, 1995–2006. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 262, 493–504 (2007).
Husker, A. L. et al. Temporal variations of non-volcanic tremor (NVT) locations in the Mexican subduction zone: finding the NVT sweet spot. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 13, Q03011 (2012).
Frank, W. B. et al. Using systematically characterized low-frequency earthquakes as a fault probe in Guerrero, Mexico. J. Geophys. Res. 119 (2014).
UNAM Seismology Group Papanoa, Mexico earthquake of 18 April 2014 (M w 7.3). Geofís. Int. 54, 363–386 (2015).
PCAIM software http://www.tectonics.caltech.edu/resources/pcaim (2016).
Kositsky, A. P. & Avouac, J. P. Inverting geodetic time series with a principal component analysis-based inversion method. J. Geophys. Res. 115, B03401 (2010).
Radiguet, M. et al. Spatial and temporal evolution of a long term slow slip event: the 2006 Guerrero Slow Slip Event. Geophys. J. Int. 184, 816–828 (2011).
Pardo, M. & Suarez, G. Shape of the subducted Rivera and Cocos plates in southern Mexico: seismic and tectonic implications. J. Geophys. Res. 100, 12357–12373 (1995).
Pérez-Campos, X. et al. Horizontal subduction and truncation of the Cocos Plate beneath central Mexico. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, L18303 (2008).
Hayes, G. P., Wald, D. J. & Johnson, R. L. Slab1.0: a three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries. J. Geophys. Res. 117, B01302 (2012).
Suárez, G., Monfret, T., Wittlinger, G. & David, C. Geometry of subduction and depth of the seismogenic zone in the Guerrero gap, Mexico. Nature 345, 336–338 (1990).
King, G. C. P., Stein, R. S. & Lin, J. Static stress changes and the triggering of earthquakes. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 84, 935–953 (1994).
Segall, P., Rubin, A. M., Bradley, A. M. & Rice, J. R. Dilatant strengthening as a mechanism for slow slip events. J. Geophys. Res. 115, B12305 (2010).
Segall, P. & Bradley, A. M. The role of thermal pressurization and dilatancy in controlling the rate of fault slip. J. Appl. Mech. 79, 031013 (2012).
Segall, P. & Bradley, A. M. Slow-slip evolves into megathrust earthquakes in 2D numerical simulations. Geophys. Res. Lett. 39, L18308 (2012).
DeMets, C., Gordon, R. G. & Argus, D. F. Geologically current plate motions. Geophys. J. Int. 181, 1–80 (2010).
Herring, T., King, R. & McClusky, S. Introduction to GAMIT/GLOBK, release 10.3. (Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, MIT, 2006).
Okada, Y. Internal deformation due to shear and tensile faults in a half-space. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 82, 1018 (1992).
Hansen, P. C. & O’Leary, D. P. The use of the L-curve in the regularization of discrete ill-posed problems. SIAM J. Sci. Comput. 14, 1487–1503 (1993).
Vergely, J.-L., Valette, B., Lallement, R. & Raimond, S. Spatial distribution of interstellar dust in the sun’s vicinity-comparison with neutral sodium-bearing gas. Astron. Astrophys. 518, A31 (2010).
Meade, B. J. Algorithms for the calculation of exact displacements, strains, and stresses for triangular dislocation elements in a uniform elastic half space. Comput. Geosci. 33, 1064–1075 (2007).
We thank M. Bouchon for useful comments and discussions. We thank people who maintain the cGPS networks in Guerrero (IG-UNAM) and Oaxaca (TLALOCNet programme) states, in particular J. A. Santiago at the Servicio Mareografico Nacional-UNAM, S. I. Franco at the Servicio Sismologico Nacional-UNAM and L. Salazar-Tlaczani at UNAM-IGEF. Data from INEGI were also used for the Analysis. This work has been supported by a grant from Labex OSUG@2020 (Investissements d’avenir ANR10 LABX56), and by the French spatial agency CNES (project TOSCA SSEMEX). Portions of the GPS network were supported by the National Science Foundation under award EAR-1338091, by UNAM-PAPIIT projects IN104213-2, IN109315-3 and IN110514, and by Conacyt project 178058.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Radiguet, M., Perfettini, H., Cotte, N. et al. Triggering of the 2014 Mw7.3 Papanoa earthquake by a slow slip event in Guerrero, Mexico. Nature Geosci 9, 829–833 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo2817
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021)
Inherited State of Stress as a Key Factor Controlling Slip and Slip Mode: Inference From the Study of a Slow Slip Event in the Longitudinal Valley, Taiwan
Geophysical Research Letters (2021)
Slow Slip Events in the Kanto and Tokai Regions of Central Japan Detected Using Global Navigation Satellite System Data During 1994–2020
Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems (2021)
Scientific Reports (2021)
Foreshocks of the 2018 ML 4.0 Shimian Earthquake in the Anninghe Fault and Its Implications for Earthquake Nucleation
Seismological Research Letters (2021)