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  1. Abstract

    The Southern San Andreas Fault (SSAF) in California is one of the most thoroughly studied faults in the world, but its configuration at seismogenic depths remains enigmatic in the Coachella Valley. We use a combination of space geodetic and seismic observations to demonstrate that the relatively straight southernmost section of the SSAF, between Thousand Palms and Bombay Beach, is dipping to the northeast at 60–80° throughout the upper crust (<10 km), including the shallow aseismic layer. We constrain the fault attitude in the top 2–3 km using inversions of surface displacements associated with shallow creep, and seismic data from a dense nodal array crossing the fault trace near Thousand Palms. The data inversions show that the shallow dipping structure connects with clusters of seismicity at depth, indicating a continuous throughgoing fault surface. The dipping fault geometry has important implications for the long‐term fault slip rate, the intensity of ground shaking during future large earthquakes, and the effective strength of the southern SAF.

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  2. Abstract

    The 2021 Maduo earthquake ruptured a 150 km‐long left‐lateral fault in the northeast Tibet. We used Synthetic Aperture Radar data collected by the Sentinel‐1A/B satellites within days of the earthquake to derive a finite fault model and investigate the details of slip distribution with depth. We generated coseismic interferograms and pixel offsets from different look directions corresponding to the ascending and descending satellite orbits. At the eastern end the rupture bifurcated into two sub‐parallel strands, with larger slip on the northern strand. Inversions of coseismic displacements show maximum slip to the east of the epicenter. The averaged coseismic slip has a peak at depth of 3–4 km, similar to slip distributions of a number of shallow strike‐slip earthquakes. Postseismic observations over several weeks following the Maduo earthquake reveal surface slip with amplitude up to 0.1 m that at least partially eliminated the coseismic slip deficit in the uppermost crust.

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  3. Abstract

    Strength of the upper brittle part of the Earth's lithosphere controls deformation styles in tectonically active regions, surface topography, seismicity, and the occurrence of plate tectonics, yet it remains one of the most debated quantities in geophysics. Direct measurements of stresses acting at seismogenic depths are largely lacking. Seismic data (in particular, earthquake focal mechanisms) have been used to infer orientation of the principal stress axes. I show that the focal mechanism data can be combined with information from precise earthquake locations to place constraints not only on the orientation, but also on the magnitude of absolute stress at depth. The proposed method uses relative attitudes of conjugate faults to evaluate the amplitude and spatial heterogeneity of the deviatoric stress and frictional strength in the seismogenic zone. Relative fault orientations (dihedral angles) and sense of slip are determined using quasi‐planar clusters of seismicity and their composite focal mechanisms. The observed distribution of dihedral angles between active conjugate faults in the area of Ridgecrest (California, USA) that hosted a recent sequence of strong earthquakes suggests in situ coefficient of friction of 0.4–0.6, and depth‐averaged shear stress on the order of 25–40 MPa, intermediate between predictions of the “strong” and “weak” fault theories.

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  4. Abstract

    Observations of shallow fault creep reveal increasingly complex time‐dependent slip histories that include quasi‐steady creep and triggered as well as spontaneous accelerated slip events. Here we report a recent slow slip event on the southern San Andreas fault triggered by the 2017Mw8.2 Chiapas (Mexico) earthquake that occurred 3,000 km away. Geodetic and geologic observations indicate that surface slip on the order of 10 mm occurred on a 40‐km‐long section of the southern San Andreas fault between the Mecca Hills and Bombay Beach, starting minutes after the Chiapas earthquake and continuing for more than a year. Both the magnitude and the depth extent of creep vary along strike. We derive a high‐resolution map of surface displacements by combining Sentinel‐1 Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar acquisitions from different lines of sight. Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar‐derived displacements are in good agreement with the creepmeter data and field mapping of surface offsets. Inversions of surface displacement data using dislocation models indicate that the highest amplitudes of surface slip are associated with shallow (<1 km) transient slip. We performed 2‐D simulations of shallow creep on a strike‐slip fault obeying rate‐and‐state friction to constrain frictional properties of the top few kilometers of the upper crust that can produce the observed behavior.

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  5. The destructive 2023 moment magnitude ( M w ) 7.8-7.7 earthquake doublet ruptured multiple segments of the East Anatolian Fault system in Turkey. We integrate multi-scale seismic and space-geodetic observations with multi-fault kinematic inversions and dynamic rupture modeling to unravel the events’ complex rupture history and stress-mediated fault interactions. Our analysis reveals three sub-shear slip episodes during the initial M w 7.8 earthquake with delayed rupture initiation to the southwest. The M w 7.7 event occurred 9 hours later with larger slip and supershear rupture on its western branch. Mechanically consistent dynamic models accounting for fault interactions can explain the unexpected rupture paths, and require a heterogeneous background stress. Our results highlight the importance of combining near- and far-field observations with data-driven and physics-based models for seismic hazard assessment. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  6. Hydrologic loads can stimulate seismicity in the Earth’s crust1. However, evidence for the triggering of large earthquakes remains elusive. The southern San Andreas Fault (SSAF) in Southern California lies next to the Salton Sea2, a remnant of ancient Lake Cahuilla that periodically filled and desiccated over the past millennium3,4,5. Here we use new geologic and palaeoseismic data to demonstrate that the past six major earthquakes on the SSAF probably occurred during highstands of Lake Cahuilla5,6. To investigate possible causal relationships, we computed time-dependent Coulomb stress changes7,8 due to variations in the lake level. Using a fully coupled model of a poroelastic crust9,10,11 overlying a viscoelastic mantle12,13, we find that hydrologic loads increased Coulomb stress on the SSAF by several hundred kilopascals and fault-stressing rates by more than a factor of 2, which is probably sufficient for earthquake triggering7,8. The destabilizing effects of lake inundation are enhanced by a nonvertical fault dip14,15,16,17, the presence of a fault damage zone18,19 and lateral pore-pressure diffusion20,21. Our model may be applicable to other regions in which hydrologic loading, either natural8,22 or anthropogenic1,23, was associated with substantial seismicity. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 22, 2024
  7. ABSTRACT The July 2019 Ridgecrest, California, earthquake sequence involved two large events—the M 6.4 foreshock and the M 7.1 mainshock that ruptured a system of intersecting strike-slip faults. We present analysis of space geodetic observations including Synthetic Aperture Radar and Global Navigation Satellite System data, geological field mapping, and seismicity to constrain the subsurface rupture geometry and slip distribution. The data render a complex pattern of faulting with a number of subparallel as well as cross-cutting fault strands that exhibit variations in both strike and dip angles, including a “flower structure” formed by shallow splay faults. Slip inversions are performed using both homogeneous and layered elastic half-space models informed by the local seismic tomography data. The inferred slip distribution suggests a moderate amount of the shallow coseismic slip deficit. The peak moment release occurred in the depth interval of 3–4 km, consistent with results from previous studies of major strike-slip earthquakes, and the depth distribution of seismicity in California. We use the derived slip models to investigate stress transfer and possible triggering relationships between the M 7.1 mainshock and the M 6.4 foreshock, as well as other moderate events that occurred in the vicinity of the M 7.1 hypocenter. Triggering is discouraged for the average strike of the M 7.1 rupture (320°) but encouraged for the initial orientation of the mainshock rupture suggested by the first-motion data (340°). This lends support to a scenario according to which the earthquake rupture nucleated on a small fault that was more optimally oriented with respect to the regional stress and subsequently propagated along the less-favorably oriented pre-existing faults, possibly facilitated by dynamic weakening. The nucleation site of the mainshock experienced positive dynamic Coulomb stress changes that are much larger than the static stress changes, yet the former failed to initiate rupture. 
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  8. Abstract The Mw 6.4 and Mw 7.1 Ridgecrest, California, earthquakes of July 2019 occurred within 34 hr of each other on conjugate strike-slip faults in the Mojave Desert, just north of the central Garlock fault. Here, we present the results of a survey of 18 Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) sites conducted in the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, including five sites that recorded the motion of the second earthquake after having been set up immediately following the first, as well as processed results from continuous GNSS sites throughout the region. Our field work in response to the earthquakes provides additional constraints on the ground displacement due to both earthquakes, complementing data from a spatially sparser network of continuously recording GNSS sites in the area, as well as temporally sparser Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar data that were able to capture a combined deformation signal from the two earthquakes. 
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