Located at the northern shore of Iceland, the Tjörnes Fracture Zone (TFZ) is a 120 km offset in the mid-Atlantic Ridge that connects the offshore Kolbeinsey Ridge to the on-land Northern Volcanic Zone. This transform zone is seismically one of the most active areas in Iceland, exposing the population to a significant risk. However, the kinematics of the mostly offshore area with its complex tectonics have not been adequately resolved and the seismic potential of the two main transform structures within the TFZ, the Grímsey Oblique Rift (GOR) and the Húsavík Flatey Fault (HFF) in particular, is not well known. In summer 2006, we expanded the number of continuous GPS (CGPS) stations in the area from 4 to 14. The resulting GPS velocities after four years of data collection show that the TFZ accommodates the full plate motion as it is predicted by the MORVEL plate motion model. In addition, ENVISAT interferograms reveal a transient uplift signal at the nearby Theistareykir central volcano with a maximum line-of-sight uplift of 3 cm between summers of 2007 and 2008. We use a combination of an interseismic backslip and a Mogi model in a homogeneous, elastic half-space to describe the kinematics within the TFZ. With a non-linear optimization approach we fit the GPS observations and estimate the key model parameters and their uncertainties, which are (among others) the locking depth, the partition of the transform motion between the two transform structures within the TFZ and the slip rate on the HFF. We find a shallow locking depth of 6.3+1.7- 1.2 km and transform motion that is accommodated 34 ± 3 per cent by the HFF and 66 ± 3 per cent by the GOR, resulting in a slip velocity of 6.6 ± 0.6 mm yr-1 for the HFF. Assuming steady accumulation since the last two large M6.5 earthquakes in 1872 the seismic potential of the fault is equivalent to a Mw6.8 ± 0.1 event.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology