The intraplate Porto dos Gaúchos seismic zone in the Amazon craton - Brazil artículo Académico uri icon


  • The largest earthquake observed in the stable continental interior of the South American plate occurred in Serra do Tombador, Mato Grosso state - Brazil, on January 31, 1955 with a magnitude of 6.2 mb. Since then no other earthquake has been located near the 1955 epicentre. However, in Porto dos Gaúchos, 100 km northeast of Serra do Tombador, a recurrent seismicity has been observed since 1959. Both Serra do Tombador and Porto dos Gaúchos are located in the Phanerozoic Parecis basin. Two magnitude 5 earthquakes occurred in Porto dos Gaúchos, in 1998 and 2005, with intensities up to VI and V, respectively. These two main shocks were followed by aftershock sequences lasting more than three years each. Local seismic stations have been deployed by the Seismological Observatory of the University of Brasilia since 1998 to study the "Porto dos Gaúchos" seismic zone (PGSZ). A local seismic refraction survey was carried out with two explosions to help define the seismic velocity model. Both the 1998 and 2005 earthquake sequences occurred in the same WSW-ENE oriented fault zone with right-lateral strike-slip mechanisms. The epicentral zone is in the Parecis basin, near its northern border where there are buried grabens, generally trending WNW-ESE, such as the deep Mesoproterozoic Caiabis graben which lies partly beneath the Parecis basin. However, the epicentral distribution indicates that the 1998 and 2005 sequences are related to a N60°E fault which probably crosses the entire Caiabis graben. The 1955 earthquake, despite the uncertainty in its epicentre, does not seem to be directly related to any buried graben either. The seismicity in the Porto dos Gaúchos seismic zone, therefore, is not directly related to rifted crust. The probable direction of the maximum horizontal stress near Porto dos Gaúchos is roughly E-W, consistent with other focal mechanisms further south in the Pantanal basin and Paraguay, but seems to be different from the NW-SE direction observed further north in the Amazon basin. The recurrent seismicity observed in Porto dos Gaúchos, and the large 1955 earthquake nearby, make this area of the Parecis basin one of the most important seismic zones of Brazil. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

fecha de publicación

  • 2009