Seismicity Variations in the Southern Aegean, Greece, Before and After the Large (M7.7) 1956 Amorgos Earthquake Due to Evolving Stress
The largest earthquake (M0=4.9·1027 dyn·cm) of the 20th century in the territory of Greece occurred south of Amorgos Island, causing extensive destruction in the southern Aegean area. It occurred on an ENE trending normal fault that is seated parallel to the Island's southern coastline. Changes in the rates of moderate size earthquakes (M ≥ 5.0) that occurred before and after the Amorgos earthquake, within circular regions centered on its epicenter with radii of 100, 150 and 200 km, are investigated. The rate for moderate size events just before the main shock appears to be considerably increased when compared to those of either preceding or subsequent periods. Further inspection reveals that more evident seismicity fluctuations are attributed to distances exceeding 100 km. These changes may be indicative of a broad region that is approaching a high stress state prior to an eventual large earthquake. Close to the main event, that is, within the 100 km radius, a remarkable quiescence period lasting about two decades before its occurrence was observed. Changes in seismicity are discussed in combination with static stress changes calculated by the application of the stress evolutionary model that takes into account the coseismic slip associated with the larger events (M ≥ 6.5) since the beginning of the 20th century and the tectonic loading on the major faults in the study area. These larger events, as with the intermediate magnitude seismicity taking place at distances exceeding 100 km and which encircled the quiescent area observed during the last 22 years before the Amorgos earthquake, are well correlated with stress-enhanced areas in each stage of the evolutionary model.