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Levitt, DA, Sandwell DT.  1995.  Lithospheric Bending at Subduction Zones Based on Depth Soundings and Satellite Gravity. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 100:379-400.   10.1029/94jb02468   AbstractWebsite

A global study of trench flexure was performed by simultaneously modeling 117 bathymetric profiles (original depth soundings) and satellite-derived gravity profiles. A thin, elastic plate flexure model was fit to each bathymetry/gravity profile by minimization of the L(1) norm. The six model parameters were regional depth, regional gravity, trench axis location, flexural wavelength, flexural amplitude, and lithospheric density. A regional tilt parameter was not required after correcting for age-related trend using a new high-resolution age map. Estimates of the density parameter confirm that most outer rises are uncompensated. We find that flexural wavelength is not an accurate estimate of plate thickness because of the high curvatures observed at a majority of trenches. As in previous studies, we find that the gravity data favor a longer-wavelength flexure than the bathymetry data. A joint topography-gravity modeling scheme and fit criteria are used to limit acceptable parameter values to models for which topography and gravity yield consistent results. Even after the elastic thicknesses are converted to mechanical thicknesses using the yield strength envelope model, residual scatter obscures the systematic increase of mechanical thickness with age; perhaps this reflects the combination of uncertainties inherent in estimating flexural wavelength, such as extreme inelastic bending and accumulated thermoelastic stress. The bending moment needed to support the trench and outer rise topography increases by a factor of 10 as lithospheric age increases from 20 to 150 Ma; this reflects the increase in saturation bending moment that the lithosphere can maintain. Using a stiff, dry-olivine theology, we find that the lithosphere of the GDH1 thermal model (Stein and Stein, 1992) is too hot and thin to maintain the observed bending moments. Moreover, the regional depth seaward of the oldest trenches (similar to 150 Ma) exceeds the GDH1 model depths by about 400 m.

Levitt, DA, Sandwell DT.  1996.  Modal depth anomalies from multibeam bathymetry: Is there a south Pacific superswell? Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 139:1-16.   10.1016/0012-821x(95)00247-a   AbstractWebsite

A region west of the southern East Pacific Rise (SEPR), between the Marquesas and Austral Fracture Zones has previously been found to exhibit anomalous depth-age behavior, based on gridded bathymetry and single-beam soundings. Since gridded bathymetry has been shown to be unsuitable for some geophysical analysis and since the area is characterized by unusually robust volcanism, the magnitude and regional extent of depth anomalies over the young eastern flank of the so called 'South Pacific Superswell' are re-examined using a mode-seeking estimation procedure on data obtained from several recent multibeam surveys. The modal technique estimates a representative seafloor depth, based on the assumption that bathymetry from non-edifice and edifice-populated seafloor has a low and a high standard deviation, respectively. Flat seafloor depth values are concentrated in a few bins which correspond to the mode. This method estimates a representative seafloor value even on seafloor for which more than 90% of coverage is dominated by ridge and seamount clusters, where the mean and median estimates may be shallow by hundreds of meters. Where volcanism-related bias is moderate, the mode, mean and median estimates are close. Depth-age results indicate that there is only a small anomaly (< 200 m) over 15-35 Ma Pacific Plate seafloor with little age-dependent shallowing, suggesting that the lithosphere east of the main hot-spot locations on the 'superswell' is normal. An important implication is that, in sparsely surveyed areas, depths from ETOPO-5 are significantly different from true depths even at large scales (similar to 1000 km) and thus are unsuitable for investigations of anomalies associated with depth-age regressions. We find that seafloor slopes on conjugate profiles of the Pacific and Nazca Plates from 15 to 35 Ma are both slightly lower than normal, but are within the global range. Proximate to the SEPR, seafloor slopes are very low (218 m Myr(-1/2)) on the Pacific Plate (0-22 Ma) and slightly high (similar to 410 m Myr(-1/2)) on the Nazca Plate (0-8 Ma); slopes for older Pacific seafloor (22-37 Ma) are near normal (399 m Myr(-1/2)). Seafloor slopes are even lower north of the Marquesas Fracture Zone but are highly influenced by the Marquesas Swell. We find that the low subsidence rate on young Pacific seafloor cannot be explained by a local hot-spot or a small-scale convective model exclusively and a stretching/thickening model requires implausible crustal thickness variation (similar to 30%).

Lindsey, EO, Fialko Y, Bock Y, Sandwell DT, Bilham R.  2014.  Localized and distributed creep along the southern San Andreas Fault. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 119:7909-7922.   10.1002/2014jb011275   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the spatial pattern of surface creep and off-fault deformation along the southern segment of the San Andreas Fault using a combination of multiple interferometric synthetic aperture radar viewing geometries and survey-mode GPS occupations of a dense array crossing the fault. Radar observations from Envisat during the period 2003-2010 were used to separate the pattern of horizontal and vertical motion, providing a high-resolution image of uplift and shallow creep along the fault trace. The data reveal pervasive shallow creep along the southernmost 50 km of the fault. Creep is localized on a well-defined fault trace only in the Mecca Hills and Durmid Hill areas, while elsewhere creep appears to be distributed over a 1-2 km wide zone surrounding the fault. The degree of strain localization is correlated with variations in the local fault strike. Using a two-dimensional boundary element model, we show that stresses resulting from slip on a curved fault can promote or inhibit inelastic failure within the fault zone in a pattern matching the observations. The occurrence of shallow, localized interseismic fault creep within mature fault zones may thus be partly controlled by the local fault geometry and normal stress, with implications for models of fault zone evolution, shallow coseismic slip deficit, and geologic estimates of long-term slip rates. Key PointsShallow creep is pervasive along the southernmost 50 km of the San Andreas FaultCreep is localized only along transpressional fault segmentsIn transtensional areas, creep is distributed over a 1-2 km wide fault zone

Liu, CS, Sandwell DT, Curray JR.  1982.  The Negative Gravity-Field Over the 85-Degrees-E Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research. 87:7673-7686.   10.1029/JB087iB09p07673   AbstractWebsite

An isopach map made from seismic reflection and refraction data in the Bay of Bengal shows two prominent N-S trending features in the basement topography. One is the northernmost portion of the Ninetyeast Ridge which is totally buried by sediments north of 10°N. The other buried ridge trends roughly N-S for 1400 km at 85°E to the latitude of Sri Lanka and then curves toward the west. It has basement relief up to 6 km. Two free-air gravity anomaly profiles across the region show a strong gravity low (∼−60 mGal) over the 85°E Ridge, while the Ninetyeast Ridge shows a gravity high. To understand the negative free-air gravity anomaly over the 85°E Ridge, we model the lithosphere as a thin elastic plate and calculate its flexural and gravitational response to an uneven sediment load. A plausible formation history for a buried ridge consists of at least two major episodes. The first is the formation of the ridge on a lithosphere with a flexural rigidity of D1. At some later time the ridge is buried by an influx of sediments, the lithosphere is cooler, and the flexural rigidity has increased to D2. The character of the gravity field depends primarily upon the initial and final values of flexural rigidity. These D1 and D2 values are varied to obtain good agreement between the model and observed gravity anomalies. Best fitting models have a 180 times increase in flexural rigidity between ridge formation and sediment burial. An approximate relationship between flexural rigidity and crustal age shows that the 85°E Ridge was formed on relatively young lithosphere, 5–15 m.y. old and that it was buried when the lithosphere was 40–80 m.y. old.

Luttrell, K, Sandwell D.  2012.  Constraints on 3-D stress in the crust from support of mid-ocean ridge topography. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 117   10.1029/2011jb008765   AbstractWebsite

The direction of crustal stresses acting at mid-ocean ridges is well characterized, but the magnitude of these stresses is poorly constrained. We present a method by which the absolute magnitude of these stresses may be constrained using seafloor topography and gravity. The topography is divided into a short-wavelength portion, created by rifting, magmatism, and transform faulting, and a long-wavelength portion associated with the cooling and subsidence of the oceanic lithosphere. The short-wavelength surface and Moho topography are used to calculate the spatially varying 3-D stress tensor in the crust by assuming that in creating this topography, the deviatoric stress reached the elastic-plastic limiting stress; the Moho topography is constrained by short-wavelength gravity variations. Under these assumptions, an incompressible elastic material gives the smallest plastic failure stress associated with this topography. This short-wavelength topographic stress generally predicts the wrong style of earthquake focal mechanisms at ridges and transform faults. However, the addition of an in-plane regional stress field is able to reconcile the combined crustal stress with both the ridge and transform focal mechanisms. By adjusting the magnitude of the regional stress, we determine a lower bound for in situ ridge-perpendicular extension of 25-40 MPa along the slow spreading mid-Atlantic ridge, 40-50 MPa along the ultra-slow spreading ridges in the western Indian Ocean, and 10-30 MPa along the fast spreading ridges of the southeastern Indian and Pacific Oceans. Furthermore, we constrain the magnitude of ridge-parallel extension to be between 4 and 8 MPa in the Atlantic Ocean, between -1 and 7 MPa in the western Indian Ocean, and between -1 and 3 MPa in the southeastern Indian and Pacific Oceans. These observations suggest that a deep transform valley is an essential feature of the ridge-transform spreading center.

Luttrell, K, Sandwell D, Smith-Konter B, Bills B, Bock Y.  2007.  Modulation of the earthquake cycle at the southern San Andreas fault by lake loading. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 112   10.1029/2006jb004752   AbstractWebsite

Changes in the level of ancient Lake Cahuilla over the last 1500 years in the Salton Trough alter the state of stress by bending the lithosphere in response to the applied lake load and by varying the pore pressure magnitude within the crust. The recurrence interval of the lake is similar to the recurrence interval of rupture on the southern San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, both of which are partially covered by the lake at its highstand. Furthermore, four of the last five ruptures on the southern San Andreas fault have occurred near a time of substantial lake level change. We investigate the effect of Coulomb stress perturbations on local faults due to changing level of Lake Cahuilla to determine a possible role for the lake in affecting the timing of fault rupture. Coulomb stress is calculated with a three-dimensional model of an elastic plate overlying a viscoelastic half-space. Plate thickness and half-space relaxation time are adjusted to match observed vertical deformation since the last lake highstand. The lake cycle causes positive and negative Coulomb stress perturbations of 0.2-0.6 MPa on the southern San Andreas within the lake and 0.1-0.2 MPa on the southern San Andreas outside the lake. These Coulomb stress perturbations are comparable to stress magnitudes known to have triggered events at other faults along the North America-Pacific plate boundary.

Luttrell, K, Sandwell D.  2010.  Ocean loading effects on stress at near shore plate boundary fault systems. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 115   10.1029/2009jb006541   AbstractWebsite

Changes in eustatic sea level since the Last Glacial Maximum create a differential load across coastlines globally. The resulting plate bending in response to this load alters the state of stress within the lithosphere within a half flexural wavelength of the coast. We calculate the perturbation to the total stress tensor due to ocean loading in coastal regions. Our stress calculation is fully 3-D and makes use of a semianalytic model to efficiently calculate stresses within a thick elastic plate overlying a viscoelastic or fluid half-space. The 3-D stress perturbation is resolved into normal and shear stresses on plate boundary fault planes of known orientation so that Coulomb stress perturbations can be calculated. In the absence of complete paleoseismic indicators that span the time since the Last Glacial Maximum, we investigate the possibility that the seismic cycle of coastal plate boundary faults was affected by stress perturbations due to the change in sea level. Coulomb stress on onshore transform faults, such as the San Andreas and Alpine faults, is increased by up to 1-1.5 MPa, respectively, promoting failure primarily through a reduction in normal stress. These stress perturbations may perceptibly alter the seismic cycle of major plate boundary faults, but such effects are more likely to be observed on nearby secondary faults with a lower tectonic stress accumulation rate. In the specific instance of rapid sea level rise at the Black Sea, the seismic cycle of the nearby North Anatolian fault was likely significantly advanced.

Luttrell, KM, Tong XP, Sandwell DT, Brooks BA, Bevis MG.  2011.  Estimates of stress drop and crustal tectonic stress from the 27 February 2010 Maule, Chile, earthquake: Implications for fault strength. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 116   10.1029/2011jb008509   AbstractWebsite

The great 27 February 2010 M(w) 8.8 earthquake off the coast of southern Chile ruptured a similar to 600 km length of subduction zone. In this paper, we make two independent estimates of shear stress in the crust in the region of the Chile earthquake. First, we use a coseismic slip model constrained by geodetic observations from interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and GPS to derive a spatially variable estimate of the change in static shear stress along the ruptured fault. Second, we use a static force balance model to constrain the crustal shear stress required to simultaneously support observed fore-arc topography and the stress orientation indicated by the earthquake focal mechanism. This includes the derivation of a semianalytic solution for the stress field exerted by surface and Moho topography loading the crust. We find that the deviatoric stress exerted by topography is minimized in the limit when the crust is considered an incompressible elastic solid, with a Poisson ratio of 0.5, and is independent of Young's modulus. This places a strict lower bound on the critical stress state maintained by the crust supporting plastically deformed accretionary wedge topography. We estimate the coseismic shear stress change from the Maule event ranged from -6 MPa (stress increase) to 17 MPa (stress drop), with a maximum depth-averaged crustal shear-stress drop of 4 MPa. We separately estimate that the plate-driving forces acting in the region, regardless of their exact mechanism, must contribute at least 27 MPa trench-perpendicular compression and 15 MPa trench-parallel compression. This corresponds to a depth-averaged shear stress of at least 7 MPa. The comparable magnitude of these two independent shear stress estimates is consistent with the interpretation that the section of the megathrust fault ruptured in the Maule earthquake is weak, with the seismic cycle relieving much of the total sustained shear stress in the crust.

Luttrell, K, Sandwell D.  2006.  Strength of the lithosphere of the Galilean satellites. Icarus. 183:159-167.   10.1016/j.icarus.2006.01.015   AbstractWebsite

Several approaches have been used to estimate the ice shell thickness on Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa. Here we develop a method for placing a strict lower bound on the thickness of the strong part of the shell (lithosphere) using measurements of topography. The minimal assumptions are that the strength of faults in the brittle lithosphere is controlled by lithostatic pressure according to Byerlee's law and the shell has relatively uniform density and thickness. Under these conditions, the topography of the ice provides a direct measure of the bending moment in the lithosphere. This topographic bending moment Must be less than the saturation bending moment of the yield strength envelope derived front Byerlee's law. The model predicts that the topographic amplitude spectrum decreases as the square of the topographic wavelength. This explains why Europa is rugged at shorter wavelengths ( similar to 10 km) but extremely smooth, and perhaps conforming to an equipotential Surface, at longer wavelengths ( > 100 km). Previously compiled data on impact crater depth and diameter [Schenk, P.M., 2002. Nature 417, 419-421] on Europa show good agreement with the spectral decrease predicted by the model and require a lithosphere thicker than 2.5 km. A more realistic model, including a ductile lower lithosphere. requires a thickness greater than 3.5 km. Future measurements of topography in the 10-100 km wavelength hand will provide tight constraints on lithospheric strength. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All riahts reserved.

Lyons, SN, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF.  2000.  Three-dimensional estimation of elastic thickness under the Louisville Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 105:13239-13252.   10.1029/2000jb900065   AbstractWebsite

A three-dimensional approach to estimating elastic thickness is presented which uses dense satellite altimetry and sparse ship bathymetry. This technique is applied to the Louisville Ridge system to study the tectonic history of the region. The inversion is performed as both a first-order approximation and a nonlinear relationship between gravity and topography based on Parker's [1973] equation. While the higher-order effect on the gravity anomaly is nearly zero for most of the region, the magnitude is significant over the summits of the ridge. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the nonlinear terms has only a minor influence on the elastic thickness estimate within each region, lowering the value by similar to 1-2 km compared with the linear result. The incorrect assumption of two dimensionality for circular features exhibits a marked effect on the gravitational anomaly, resulting in false sidelobe structure of nearly 20 mGal for large seamounts. Our elastic thickness estimates are compared with the contradictory values obtained in previous studies by Cazenave and Dominh [1984] and Watts et al. [1988]. We find an increasing elastic thickness along the chain from southeast to northwest, with a discontinuity along the Wishbone scarp. The jump in elastic thickness values northwest of the scarp appears to be an indication of an age discontinuity caused by an extinct spreading center north of the ridge.

Lyons, SN, Bock Y, Sandwell DT.  2002.  Creep along the imperial fault, southern California, from GPS measurements. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 107   10.1029/2001jb000763   AbstractWebsite

[1] In May of 1999 and 2000, we surveyed with Global Positioning System (GPS) 46 geodetic monuments established by Imperial College, London, in a dense grid (half-mile spacing) along the Imperial Fault, with three additional National Geodetic Survey sites serving as base stations. These stations were previously surveyed in 1991 and 1993. The Imperial College sites were surveyed in rapid-static mode (15-20 min occupations), while the NGS sites continuously received data for 10 h d(-1). Site locations were calculated using the method of instantaneous positioning, and velocities were determined relative to one of the NGS base stations. Combining our results with far-field velocities from the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), we fit the data to a simple elastic dislocation model with 35 mm yr(-1) of right-lateral slip below 10 km and 9 mm yr(-1) of creep from the surface down to 3 km. The velocity field is asymmetrical across the fault and could indicate a dipping fault plane to the northeast or a viscosity contrast across the fault.

Lyons, S, Sandwell D.  2003.  Fault creep along the southern San Andreas from interferometric synthetic aperture radar, permanent scatterers, and stacking. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 108   10.1029/2002jb001831   AbstractWebsite

[1] Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) provides a practical means of mapping creep along major strike-slip faults. The small amplitude of the creep signal (<10 mm/yr), combined with its short wavelength, makes it difficult to extract from long time span interferograms, especially in agricultural or heavily vegetated areas. We utilize two approaches to extract the fault creep signal from 37 ERS SAR images along the southern San Andreas Fault. First, amplitude stacking is utilized to identify permanent scatterers, which are then used to weight the interferogram prior to spatial filtering. This weighting improves correlation and also provides a mask for poorly correlated areas. Second, the unwrapped phase is stacked to reduce tropospheric and other short-wavelength noise. This combined processing enables us to recover the near-field (&SIM;200 m) slip signal across the fault due to shallow creep. Displacement maps from 60 interferograms reveal a diffuse secular strain buildup, punctuated by localized interseismic creep of 4-6 mm/yr line of sight (LOS, 12-18 mm/yr horizontal). With the exception of Durmid Hill, this entire segment of the southern San Andreas experienced right-lateral triggered slip of up to 10 cm during the 3.5-year period spanning the 1992 Landers earthquake. The deformation change following the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake was much smaller (<1 cm) and broader than for the Landers event. Profiles across the fault during the interseismic phase show peak-to-trough amplitude ranging from 15 to 25 mm/yr (horizontal component) and the minimum misfit models show a range of creeping/locking depth values that fit the data.