Coseismic fault slip in the shallow crust is poorly constrained by many of the conventional tools used to record deformation during earthquakes. GNSS stations are often distributed too far from faults and radar images tend to decorrelate across earthquake surface ruptures. As a result, our understanding of near-field fault slip, shallow slip deficits, and off-fault deformation is limited.
We present evidence from the 2016 central Italy earthquake sequence, during which we captured shallow coseismic and post-seismic slip using a combination of terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), structure-from-motion (SfM), and near-field low-cost GNSS recording at 1Hz. Three Mw>6 earthquakes on the 24th August, 26th and 30th October all involved slip on the Mt Vettore-Mt Bove fault system. We collected TLS and SfM point clouds across three separate segments of this system. Each segment experienced a different record of slip during the earthquake sequence; all three ruptured in the largest event (Mw 6.6. on October 30th) but two segments also ruptured during either the 24th August or the 26th October earthquakes.
Following the Mw 6.6 earthquake, the faults were repeatedly surveyed using TLS, with the first scan collected c. 5 hours following the earthquake. This represents the first known instance where shallow co-seismic slip has been recorded by pre- and post-event terrestrial laser scanning. Displacement continuously measured across GNSS pairs at 1 Hz demonstrates that permanent near field displacement developed across the fault in the immediate seconds following the initiation of the rupture. However, a discrepancy between on-fault field measurements of surface displacement and the GNSS recorded displacement over 1km long baselines hints at a more complex rupture processes and the possibility of high slip gradients in the shallow subsurface. Displacement measured by differential TLS confirms the presence of these shallow slip deficits but suggests that shallow slip gradient may be controlled by the pattern and timing of slip in the preceding earthquakes. Postseismic afterslip captured by repeated TLS surveys hints at more complicated temporal evolution of nearfield afterslip than is currently predicted by logarithmic models for this process.