The southern central Chilean margin at the site of the largest historically recorded earthquake in the Valdivia region, in 1960 (Mw = 9.5), is part of the 5000-km-long active subduction system whose geodynamic evolution is controversially debated and poorly understood. Covering the area between 36° and 40°S, the oceanic crust is segmented by prominent fracture zones. The offshore forearc and its onshore continuation show a complex image with segments of varying geophysical character, and several fault systems active during the past 24 m.y.
In autumn 2001, the project SPOC was organized to study the Subduction Processes Off Chile, with a focus on the seismogenic coupling zone and the forearc. The acquired seismic data crossing the Chilean subduction system were gathered in a combined offshore-onshore survey and provide new insights into the lithospheric structure and evolution of active margins with insignificant frontal accretion.