The 2016 Mw 7.8 pedernales, Ecuador, earthquake: Rapid response deployment

Anne Meltzer, Mariah Hoskins, Lillian Soto-Cordero, Joshua C. Stachnik, Susan Beck, Colton Lynner, Rob Porritt, Daniel Portner, Mario Ruiz, Alexandra Alvarado, Stephen Hernandez, Hugo Yepes, Philippe Charvis, Yvonne Font, Marc Regnier, Hans Agurto-Detzel, Andreas Rietbrock, Sergio Leon-Rios, E. Diego Mercerat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The April 2016 Pedernales earthquake ruptured a 100 km by 40 km segment of the subduction zone along the coast of Ecuador in an Mw 7.8 megathrust event east of the intersection of the Carnegie ridge with the trench. This portion of the subduction zone has ruptured on decadal time scales in similar size and larger earthquakes, and exhibits a range of slip behaviors, variations in segmentation, and degree of plate coupling along strike. Immediately after the earthquake, an international rapid response effort coordinated by the Instituto Geofísico at the Escuela Politécnica Nacional in Quito deployed 55 seismometers and 10 ocean-bottom seismometers above the rupture zone and adjacent areas to record aftershocks. In this article, we describe the details of the U.S. portion of the rapid response and present an earthquake catalog from May 2016 to May 2017 produced using data recorded by these stations. Aftershocks focus in distinct clusters within and around the rupture area and match spatial patterns observed in long-term seismicity. For the first two and a half months, aftershocks exhibit a relatively sharp cutoff to the north of the mainshock rupture. In early July, an earthquake swarm occurred ∼100 km to the northeast of the mainshock in the epicentral region of an Mw 7.8 earthquake in 1958. In December, an increase in seismicity occurred ∼70 km to the northeast of the mainshock in the epicentral region of the 1906 earthquake. Data from the Pedernales earthquake and aftershock sequence recorded by permanent seismic and geodetic networks in Ecuador and the dense aftershock deployment provide an opportunity to examine the persistence of asperities for large to great earthquakes over multiple seismic cycles, the role of asperities and slow slip in subduction-zone megathrust rupture, and the relationship between locked and creeping parts of the subduction interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1346-1354
Number of pages9
JournalSeismological Research Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics


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