Senior Scientist Jian Lin (in blue shirt) and colleagues examine geological evidence of past earthquakes near the Mediterranean coast of Algeria. A study of the interplay of stresses surrounding a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Algeria has given Lin and other scientists new insight into the evolution of this type of quake. Lin, a geophysicist, reports a “strong earthquake interaction” between offsetting thrust faults called en echelon faults and adjacent tear faults in the 2003 Zemmouri quake off Algiers. “We…illustrate that strong earthquake interaction between thrust ruptures and adjacent tear faults is an essential feature of contractional tectonics,” says Lin. “Thus, such stress interaction must be considered in assessing earthquake potentials in contractional regions of the world, such as northern Algeria, central California and the Los Angeles Basin.” Lin's work in Algeria has been funded by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development.
(Photo courtesy of Jian Lin, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)