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Topography and tectonics of the central New Madrid seismic zone: Results of numerical experiements using a three-dimensional boundary element programWe present results of a series of numerical experiments designed to test hypothetical mechanisms that derive deformation in the New Madrid seismic zone. Experiments are constrained by subtle topography and the distribution of seismicity in the region. We use a new boundary element algorithm that permits calcuation of the three-dimensional deformation field. Surface displacement fields are calculated for the New Madrid zone under both far-field (plate tectonics scale) and locally derived driving strains. Results demonstrate that surface displacement fields cannot distinguish between either a far-field simple or pure shear strain field or one that involves a deep shear zone beneath the upper crustal faults. Thus, neither geomorphic nor geodetic studies alone are expected to reveal the ultimate driving mechanism behind the present-day deformation. We have also tested hypotheses about strain accommodation within the New Madrid contractional step-over by including linking faults, two southwest dipping and one vertical, recently inferred from microearthquake data. Only those models with step-over faults are able to predict the observed topography. Surface displacement fields for long-term, relaxed deformation predict the distribution of uplift and subsidence in the contractional step-over remarkably well. Generation of these displacement fields appear to require slip on both the two northeast trending vertical faults and the two dipping faults in the step-over region, with very minor displacements occurring during the interseismic period when the northeast trending vertical faults are locked. These models suggest that the gently dippling central step-over fault is a reverse fault and that the steeper fault, extending to the southeast of the step-over, acts as a normal fault over the long term.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Gomberg, Joan (U.S. Geological Survey, Memphis, TN United States)
Ellis, Michael (Univ. of Memphis, Memphis, TN United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
October 10, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Journal of Geophysical Research
Volume: 99
Issue: B10
ISSN: 0148-0227
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits