Aseismic transient during the 2010-2014 seismic swarm: evidence for longer recurrence of M ≥ 6.5 earthquakes in the Pollino gap (Southern Italy)?

Sci Rep. 2017 Apr 12;7(1):576. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-00649-z.


In actively deforming regions, crustal deformation is accommodated by earthquakes and through a variety of transient aseismic phenomena. Here, we study the 2010-2014 Pollino (Southern Italy) swarm sequence (main shock M W 5.1) located within the Pollino seismic gap, by analysing the surface deformation derived from Global Positioning System and Synthetic Aperture Radar data. Inversions of geodetic time series show that a transient slip, with the same mechanism of the main shock, started about 3-4 months before the main shock and lasted almost one year, evolving through time with acceleration phases that correlate with the rate of seismicity. The moment released by the transient slip is equivalent to M W 5.5, significantly larger than the seismic moment release revealing therefore that a significant fraction of the overall deformation is released aseismically. Our findings suggest that crustal deformation in the Pollino gap is accommodated by infrequent "large" earthquakes (M W ≥ 6.5) and by aseismic episodes releasing a significant fraction of the accrued strain. Lower strain rates, relative to the adjacent Southern Apennines, and a mixed seismic/aseismic strain release are in favour of a longer recurrence for large magnitude earthquakes in the Pollino gap.