Active tectonics in Southern Portugal (SW Iberia) inferred from GPS data. Implications on the regional geodynamics

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Journal of Geodynamics, ISSN: 0264-3707, Vol: 112, Page: 1-11

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João Cabral; Virgílio Brito Mendes; Paula Figueiredo; António Brum da Silveira; Joaquim Pagarete; António Ribeiro; Ruben Dias; Ricardo Ressurreição
Elsevier BV
Earth and Planetary Sciences
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A GPS-based crustal velocity field for the SW Portuguese territory (Algarve region, SW Iberia) was estimated from the analysis of data from a network of campaign-style GPS stations set up in the region since 1998, complemented with permanent stations, covering an overall period of 16.5 years. The GPS monitoring sites were chosen attending to the display of the regional active faults, in an attempt to detect and monitor any related crustal straining. The residual horizontal velocities relative to Eurasia unveil a relatively consistent pattern towards WNW, with magnitudes that noticeably increase from NNE to SSW. Although the obtained velocity field does not evidence a sharp velocity gradient it suggests the presence of a NW-SE trending crustal shear zone separating two domains, which may be slowly accumulating a slightly transtensional right-lateral shear strain. Based on the WNW velocity differential between the northeastern block and the southwestern block, a shear strain rate accumulation across the shear zone is estimated. This ongoing crustal deformation is taken as evidence that a nearby major active structure, the São Marcos − Quarteira fault, may be presently accumulating strain, therefore being potentially loaded for seismic rupture and the generation of a large magnitude earthquake. Further inferences are made concerning the interseismic dynamic loading of other major onshore and offshore active structures located to the west.