The effect of sea level changes on fault reactivation potential in Portugal
© 2015 Elsevier B.V. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of sea level changes on both the stress field and the potential of fault reactivation in west Iberia. The analysis is applied to a set of five active faults distributed across Portugal, selected for representing predominant fault directions and for being seismically active. The results show that the rise of sea level since the Last Glacial Maximum has produced flexural effects with distinct impacts on different faults. The Coulomb stress changes induced by the sea level rise along the S. Marcos-Quarteira (south Portugal) and the Horseshoe (offshore SW Iberia) faults are found to be extremely small, independently of the elastic plate thickness. These faults are thus unaffected by flexural effects related to ocean loading, and are unlikely to possess any paleoseismic record of this phenomenon. In contrast, the eustatic sea level rise during the late Pleistocene could have raised the Coulomb stress by 0.5-1. MPa along the Manteigas-Vilariça-Bragança (north Portugal) and Lower Tagus Valley (Lisbon area) fault systems. Such stress perturbations are probably sufficient to impact the seismic cycle of the Manteigas-Vilariça-Bragança fault, bringing it closer to failure and possibly triggering the earthquake clusters that have been observed in previous paleoseismologic studies.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Neves, M., Cabral, J., Luttrell, K., Figueiredo, P., Rockwell, T., & Sandwell, D. (2015). The effect of sea level changes on fault reactivation potential in Portugal. Tectonophysics, 658, 206-220. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tecto.2015.07.023