Source parameters of the 2008 Bukavu-Cyangugu earthquake estimated from InSAR and teleseismic data

Nicolas D'Oreye, Pablo J. González, Ashley Shuler, Adrien Oth, Louis Bagalwa, Göran Ekström, Déogratias Kavotha, François Kervyn, Celia Lucas, François Lukaya, Etoy Osodundu, Christelle Wauthier, José Fernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Earthquake source parameter determination is of great importance for hazard assessment, as well as for a variety of scientific studies concerning regional stress and strain release and volcano-tectonic interaction. This is especially true for poorly instrumented, densely populated regions such as encountered in Africa, where even the distribution of seismicity remains poorly documented. In this paper, we combine data from satellite radar interferometry (InSAR) and teleseismic waveforms to determine the source parameters of the Mw 5.9 earthquake that occurred on 2008 February 3 near the cities of Bukavu (DR Congo) and Cyangugu (Rwanda). This was the second largest earthquake ever to be recorded in the Kivu basin, a section of the western branch of the East African Rift (EAR). This earthquake is of particular interest due to its shallow depth and proximity to active volcanoes and Lake Kivu, which contains high concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide and methane. The shallow depth and possible similarity with dyking events recognized in other parts of EAR suggested the potential association of the earthquake with a magmatic intrusion, emphasizing the necessity of accurate source parameter determination. In general, we find that estimates of fault plane geometry, depth and scalar moment are highly consistent between teleseismic and InSAR studies. Centroid-moment-tensor (CMT) solutions locate the earthquake near the southern part of Lake Kivu, while InSAR studies place it under the lake itself. CMT solutions characterize the event as a nearly pure double-couple, normal faulting earthquake occurring on a fault plane striking 350° and dipping 52° east, with a rake of -101°. This is consistent with locally mapped faults, as well as InSAR data, which place the earthquake on a fault striking 355° and dipping 55° east, with a rake of -98°. The depth of the earthquake was constrained by a joint analysis of teleseismic P and SH waves and the CMT data set, showing that the earthquake occurred in the shallow crust, at approximately 8 km depth. Inversions of ENVISAT (Environment Satellite) and ALOS (Advanced Land Observation Satellite) data place the earthquake at 9 km. A comparison of the scalar moment (9.43 ± 0.06 × 1017 Nm from seismology and 8.99 ± 0.010 × 1017 Nm from the joint InSAR solution) shows good agreement between the two data sets. Such an agreement is in contrast to the large discrepancies observed (up to an order of magnitude) in other places along the EAR where similar earthquake sequences are associated with magmatic intrusion. From this, we infer that the rupture was brittle and occurred with little aseismic deformation as might be expected from magma injection. Our results provide insights into the style of rifting occurring in the South Kivu Volcanic Province and hence will aid future studies on seismic risk in the context of Lake Kivu and underline the importance of systematic monitoring of the EAR area.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)934-948
Number of pages15
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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