Accurate relative earthquake hypocenters reveal structure of the Burma subduction zone

A. L. Stork*, Neil D. Selby, R. Heyburn, M. P. Searle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The Burma arc links the Himalaya to the Andaman-Sumatra trench, and comprehension of the geological features in the region is vital to understand the active tectonic processes in the area. Subduction on the Sumatra trench produced the devastating 2004 Sumatra earthquake (Mw ∼9:0), but the mechanisms accommodating relative India-Sundaland motion in Burma are still unknown. Previous seismological studies of the area use only earthquake catalog hypocenters, so structural details of subducted material remain poorly understood. Here, accurate relative hypocenters for 81 earthquakes are estimated using first arrivals picked from regional and teleseismic recordings. Depth determination is improved using measured travel-time differences between P onsets and depth phases (pP and sP). The results clearly illustrate a slab 21°-25° N dipping ∼25° at 40-80 km deep, ∼40° at 80-120 km deep, and ∼60° at 120-160 km deep, and its strike follows the Indo-Burman ranges. At latitudes >25° N earthquakes become more shallow, and a diffuse picture of hypocenters with an east-west lateral discontinuity at depth is observed, indicating lateral deformation of the slab. Previous studies suggest there is a transition at ∼90 km deep from shallower strike-slip earthquakes to deeper thrust-type events. Here, accurate depth estimates, combined with confirmation of two Global Centroid Moment Tensor solutions using body-wave modeling, shows that thrust and strike-slip earthquakes both occur deeper than 100 km in the Burma arc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2815-2827
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008


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