Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published 1994 | metadata_only
Journal Article

The 1957 great Aleutian earthquake


The 9 March 1957 Aleutian earthquake has been estimated as the third largest earthquake this century and has the longest aftershock zone of any earthquake ever recorded—1200 km. However, due to a lack of high-quality seismic data, the actual source parameters for this earthquake have been poorly determined. We have examined all the available waveform data to determine the seismic moment, rupture area, and slip distribution. These data include body, surface and tsunami waves. Using body waves, we have estimated the duration of significant moment release as 4 min. From surface wave analysis, we have determined that significant moment release occurred only in the western half of the aftershock zone and that the best estimate for the seismic moment is 50–100×10^(20) Nm. Using the tsunami waveforms, we estimated the source area of the 1957 tsunami by backward propagation. The tsunami source area is smaller than the aftershock zone and is about 850 km long. This does not include the Unalaska Island area in the eastern end of the aftershock zone, making this area a possible seismic gap and a possible site of a future large or great earthquake. We also inverted the tsunami waveforms for the slip distribution. Slip on the 1957 rupture zone was highest in the western half near the epicenter. Little slip occurred in the eastern half. The moment is estimated as 88×10^(20) Nm, or M_w =8.6, making it the seventh largest earthquake during the period 1900 to 1993. We also compare the 1957 earthquake to the 1986 Andreanof Islands earthquake, which occurred within a segment of the 1957 rupture area. The 1986 earthquake represents a rerupturing of the major 1957 asperity.

Additional Information

© 1994 Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel. Received April 6, 1993; Revised September 18, 1993; Accepted October 2, 1993. We wish to thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped improve our manuscript. This work was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey (1434-92-G-2187 and 1434-93-G-2320) and the National Science Foundation (EAR-90-19003). This work was partially supported by NSF grant EAR920000N and utilized the Cray-2 system at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. J. M. J. was partially supported by a Shell Graduate Grant.

Additional details

August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023