The crustal gravitational potential energy change (ΔGPE) caused by earthquakes in the Philippine area from January 1976 to November 2011 was estimated in this study. The active convergence between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Sundaland-Eurasian margin is reflected by the greatest gains in GPE along the Philippine, Negros and Cotabato trenches, whereas the Manila Trench is covered by a GPE loss pattern. Although the Philippine Mobile Belt (PMB) itself is actually affected by the ongoing collision and subduction processes, almost the entire Philippine Fault Zone is dominated by GPE loss, revealing a slightly extensional environment along the fault. The time evolution of the cumulated ΔGPE for different segments along the Philippine archipelago shows distinct patterns. Due to the numerous large underthrusting events that have occurred along the Philippine Trench, the cumulated ΔGPE is regularly increasing in its most southern segment. However, in the middle segments, where the Palawan Block enters into collision with the PMB, the increase in cumulated ΔGPE is relatively small. In the most northern segment, where the North Luzon is located, a decrease of cumulated ΔGPE demonstrates that the seismic characteristic of the Manila Trench is dissimilar from other subduction systems in the world. We suggest that the collision of both the Palawan Block and the Benham Rise with the PMB promotes the rotation of the PMB and facilitates the northward escape of the northeastern Luzon, resulting in a decrease of cumulated ΔGPE in the northern Philippines.
- Gravitational potential energy
- Palawan Block
- Philippine fault
- Philippine mobile belt