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Tong, XP, Sandwell D, Luttrell K, Brooks B, Bevis M, Shimada M, Foster J, Smalley R, Parra H, Soto JCB, Blanco M, Kendrick E, Genrich J, Caccamise DJ.  2010.  The 2010 Maule, Chile earthquake: Downdip rupture limit revealed by space geodesy. Geophysical Research Letters. 37   10.1029/2010gl045805   AbstractWebsite

Radar interferometry from the ALOS satellite captured the coseismic ground deformation associated with the 2010 Mw 8.8 Maule, Chile earthquake. The ALOS interferograms reveal a sharp transition in fringe pattern at similar to 150 km from the trench axis that is diagnostic of the downdip rupture limit of the Maule earthquake. An elastic dislocation model based on ascending and descending ALOS interferograms and 13 near-field 3-component GPS measurements reveals that the coseismic slip decreases more or less linearly from a maximum of 17 m (along-strike average of 6.5 m) at 18 km depth to near zero at 43-48 km depth, quantitatively indicating the downdip limit of the seismogenic zone. The depth at which slip drops to near zero appears to be at the intersection of the subducting plate with the continental Moho. Our model also suggests that the depth where coseismic slip vanishes is nearly uniform along the strike direction for a rupture length of similar to 600 km. The average coseismic slip vector and the interseismic velocity vector are not parallel, which can be interpreted as a deficit in strike-slip moment release. Citation: Tong, X., et al. (2010), The 2010 Maule, Chile earthquake: Downdip rupture limit revealed by space geodesy, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L24311, doi:10.1029/2010GL045805.

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Tong, XP, Sandwell DT, Fialko Y.  2010.  Coseismic slip model of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake derived from joint inversion of interferometric synthetic aperture radar, GPS, and field data. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 115   10.1029/2009jb006625   AbstractWebsite

We derived a coseismic slip model for the M(w) 7.9 2008 Wenchuan earthquake on the basis of radar line-of-sight displacements from ALOS interferograms, GPS vectors, and geological field data. Available interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) data provided a nearly complete coverage of the surface deformation along both ascending (fine beam mode) and descending orbits (ScanSAR to ScanSAR mode). The earthquake was modeled using four subfaults with variable geometry and dip to capture the simultaneous rupture of both the Beichuan fault and the Pengguan fault. Our model misfits show that the InSAR and GPS data are highly compatible; the combined inversion yields a 93% variance reduction. The best fit model has fault planes that rotate from shallow dip in the south (35 degrees) to nearly vertical dip toward the north (70 degrees). Our rupture model is complex with variations in both depth and rake along two major fault strands. In the southern segment of the Beichuan fault, the slip is mostly thrust (<13 m) and occurred principally in the upper 10 km of the crust; the rupture progressively transformed to right-lateral strike slip as it propagated northeast (with maximum offsets of 7 m). Our model suggests that most of the moment release was limited to the shallow part of the crust (depth less than 10 km). We did not find any "shallow slip deficit" in the slip depth distribution of this mixed mechanism earthquake. Aftershocks were primarily distributed below the section of the fault that ruptured coseismically.

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Mueller, D, Sandwell DT, Tucholke BE, Sclater JG, Shaw PR.  1991.  Depth to basement and geoid expression of the Kane Fracture Zone: A comparison. Marine Geophysical Researches. 13:105-129. AbstractWebsite

Geoid data from Geosat and subsatellite basement depth profiles of the Kane Fracture Zone in the central North Atlantic were used to examine the correlation between the short-wavelength geoid ( lambda = 25-100 km) and the uncompensated basement topography. The processing technique we apply allows the stacking of geoid profiles, although each repeat cycle has an unknown long-wavelength bias. We first formed the derivative of individual profiles, stacked up to 22 repeat cycles, and then integrated the average-slope profile to reconstruct the geoid height. The stacked, filtered geoid profiles have a noise level of about 7 mm in geoid height. The subsatellite basement topography was obtained from a recent compilation of structure contours on basement along the entire length of the Kane Fracture Zone.

Trugman, DT, Borsa AA, Sandwell DT.  2014.  Did stresses from the Cerro Prieto Geothermal Field influence the El Mayor-Cucapah rupture sequence? Geophysical Research Letters. 41:8767-8774.   10.1002/2014gl061959   AbstractWebsite

The M-w 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah (EMC) earthquake ruptured a complex fault system in northern Baja California that was previously considered inactive. The Cerro Prieto Geothermal Field (CPGF), site of the world's second largest geothermal power plant, is located approximately 15km to the northeast of the EMC hypocenter. We investigate whether anthropogenic fluid extraction at the CPGF caused a significant perturbation to the stress field in the EMC rupture zone. We use Advanced Land Observing Satellite interferometric synthetic aperture radar data to develop a laterally heterogeneous model of fluid extraction at the CPGF and estimate that this extraction generates positive Coulomb stressing rates of order 15 kPa/yr near the EMC hypocenter, a value which exceeds the local tectonic stressing rate. Although we cannot definitively conclude that production at the CPGF triggered the EMC earthquake, its influence on the local stress field is substantial and should not be neglected in local seismic hazard assessments.

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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.

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Becker, JJ, Sandwell DT, Smith WHF, Braud J, Binder B, Depner J, Fabre D, Factor J, Ingalls S, Kim SH, Ladner R, Marks K, Nelson S, Pharaoh A, Trimmer R, Von Rosenberg J, Wallace G, Weatherall P.  2009.  Global Bathymetry and Elevation Data at 30 Arc Seconds Resolution: SRTM30_PLUS. Marine Geodesy. 32:355-371.   10.1080/01490410903297766   AbstractWebsite

A new 30-arc second resolution global topography/bathymetry grid (SRTM30_PLUS) has been developed from a wide variety of data sources. Land and ice topography comes from the SRTM30 and ICESat topography, respectively. Ocean bathymetry is based on a new satellite-gravity model where the gravity-to-topography ratio is calibrated using 298 million edited soundings. The main contribution of this study is the compilation and editing of the raw soundings, which come from NOAA, individual scientists, SIO, NGA, JAMSTEC, IFREMER, GEBCO, and NAVOCEANO. The gridded bathymetry is available for ftp download in the same format as the 33 tiles of SRTM30 topography. There are 33 matching tiles of source identification number to convey the provenance of every grid cell. The raw sounding data, converted to a simple common format, are also available for ftp download.

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Tong, X, Sandwell DT, Smith-Konter B.  2013.  High-resolution interseismic velocity data along the San Andreas Fault from GPS and InSAR. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 118:369-389.   10.1029/2012jb009442   AbstractWebsite

We compared four interseismic velocity models of the San Andreas Fault based on GPS observations. The standard deviations of the predicted secular velocity from the four models are larger north of the San Francisco Bay area, near the creeping segment in Central California, and along the San Jacinto Fault and the East California Shear Zone in Southern California. A coherence spectrum analysis of the secular velocity fields indicates relatively high correlation among the four models at longer wavelengths (>15-40 km), with lower correlation at shorter wavelengths. To improve the short-wavelength accuracy of the interseismic velocity model, we integrated interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) observations, initially from Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) ascending data (spanning from the middle of 2006 to the end of 2010, totaling more than 1100 interferograms), with GPS observations using a Sum/Remove/Filter/Restore approach. The final InSAR line of sight data match the point GPS observations with a mean absolute deviation of 1.5 mm/yr. We systematically evaluated the fault creep rates along major faults of the San Andreas Fault and compared them with creepmeters and alignment array data compiled in Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 2 (UCERF2). Moreover, this InSAR line of sight dataset can constrain rapid velocity gradients near the faults, which are critical for understanding the along-strike variations in stress accumulation rate and associated earthquake hazard. Citation: Tong, X., D. T. Sandwell, and B. Smith-Konter (2013), High-resolution interseismic velocity data along the San Andreas Fault from GPS and InSAR, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 118, 369-389, doi:10.1029/2012JB009442.

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Malinverni, ES, Sandwell DT, Tassetti AN, Cappelletti L.  2014.  InSAR decorrelation to assess and prevent volcanic risk. European Journal of Remote Sensing. 47:537-556.   10.5721/EuJRS20144730   AbstractWebsite

SAR can be invaluable describing pre-eruption surface deformation and improving the understanding of volcanic processes. This work studies correlation of pairs of SAR images focusing on the influence of surface, climate conditions and acquisition band. Chosen L-band and C-band images (ENVISAT, ERS and ALOS) cover most of the Yellowstone caldera (USA) over a span of 4 years, sampling all the seasons. Interferograms and correlation maps are generated and studied in relation to snow depth and temperature. To isolate temporal decorrelation pairs of images with the shortest baseline are chosen. Results show good performance during winter, bad attitude towards wet snow and good coherence during summer with L-band performing better over vegetation.

Tong, XP, Sandwell DT, Smith-Konter B.  2015.  An integral method to estimate the moment accumulation rate on the Creeping Section of the San Andreas Fault. Geophysical Journal International. 203:48-62.   10.1093/gji/ggv269   AbstractWebsite

Moment accumulation rate (also referred to as moment deficit rate) is a fundamental quantity for evaluating seismic hazard. The conventional approach for evaluating moment accumulation rate of creeping faults is to invert for the slip distribution from geodetic measurements, although even with perfect data these slip-rate inversions are non-unique. In this study, we show that the slip-rate versus depth inversion is not needed because moment accumulation rate can be estimated directly from surface geodetic data. We propose an integral approach that uses dense geodetic observations from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) to constrain the moment accumulation rate. The moment accumulation rate is related to the integral of the product of the along-strike velocity and the distance from the fault. We demonstrate our methods by studying the Creeping Section of the San Andreas fault observed by GPS and radar interferometry onboard the ERS and ALOS satellites. Along-strike variation of the moment accumulation rate is derived in order to investigate the degree of partial locking of the Creeping Section. The central Creeping Segment has a moment accumulation rate of 0.25-3.1 x 10(15) Nm yr(-1) km(-1). The upper and lower bounds of the moment accumulation rates are derived based on the statistics of the noise. Our best-fitting model indicates that the central portion of the Creeping Section is accumulating seismic moment at rates that are about 5 per cent to 23 per cent of the fully locked Carrizo segment that will eventually be released seismically. A cumulative moment budget calculation with the historical earthquake catalogue (M > 5.5) since 1857 shows that the net moment deficit at present is equivalent to a M-w 6.3 earthquake.

Kaneko, Y, Fialko Y, Sandwell DT, Tong X, Furuya M.  2013.  Interseismic deformation and creep along the central section of the North Anatolian Fault (Turkey): InSAR observations and implications for rate-and-state friction properties. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 118:316-331.   10.1029/2012jb009661   AbstractWebsite

We present high-resolution measurements of interseismic deformation along the central section of the North Anatolian Fault (NAF) in Turkey using interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from the Advanced Land Observing Satellite and Envisat missions. We generated maps of satellite line-of-sight velocity using five ascending Advanced Land Observing Satellite tracks and one descending Envisat track covering the NAF between 31.2 degrees E and 34.3 degrees E. The line-of-sight velocity reveals discontinuities of up to similar to 5 mm/yr across the Ismetpasa segment of the NAF, implying surface creep at a rate of similar to 9 mm/yr; this is a large fraction of the inferred slip rate of the NAF (21-25 mm/yr). The lateral extent of significant surface creep is about 75 km. We model the inferred surface velocity and shallow fault creep using numerical simulations of spontaneous earthquake sequences that incorporate laboratory-derived rate and state friction. Our results indicate that frictional behavior in the Ismetpasa segment is velocity strengthening at shallow depths and transitions to velocity weakening at a depth of 3-6 km. The inferred depth extent of shallow fault creep is 5.5-7 km, suggesting that the deeper locked portion of the partially creeping segment is characterized by a higher stressing rate, smaller events, and shorter recurrence interval. We also reproduce surface velocity in a locked segment of the NAF by fault models with velocity-weakening conditions at shallow depth. Our results imply that frictional behavior in a shallow portion of major active faults with little or no shallow creep is mostly velocity weakening. Citation: Kaneko, Y., Y. Fialko, D. T. Sandwell, X. Tong, and M. Furuya (2013), Interseismic deformation and creep along the central section of the North Anatolian Fault (Turkey): InSAR observations and implications for rate-and-state friction properties, J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 118, 316-331, doi: 10.1029/2012JB009661.

Tong, XP, Smith-Konter B, Sandwell DT.  2014.  Is there a discrepancy between geological and geodetic slip rates along the San Andreas Fault System? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 119:2518-2538.   10.1002/2013jb010765   AbstractWebsite

Previous inversions for slip rate along the San Andreas Fault System (SAFS), based on elastic half-space models, show a discrepancy between the geologic and geodetic slip rates along a few major fault segments. In this study, we use an earthquake cycle model representing an elastic plate over a viscoelastic half-space to demonstrate that there is no significant discrepancy between long-term geologic and geodetic slip rates. The California statewide model includes 41 major fault segments having steady slip from the base of the locked zone to the base of the elastic plate and episodic shallow slip based on known historical ruptures and geologic recurrence intervals. The slip rates are constrained by 1981 secular velocity measurements from GPS and L-band intereferometric synthetic aperture radar. A model with a thick elastic layer (60 km) and half-space viscosity of 10(19)Pa s is preferred because it produces the smallest misfit to both the geologic and the geodetic data. We find that the geodetic slip rates from the thick plate model agrees to within the bounds of the geologic slip rates, while the rates from the elastic half-space model disagree on specific important fault segments such as the Mojave and the North Coast segment of the San Andreas Fault. The viscoelastic earthquake cycle models have generally higher slip rates than the half-space model because most of the faults along the SAFS are late in the earthquake cycle, so today they are moving slower than the long-term cycle-averaged velocity as governed by the viscoelastic relaxation process.

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Xu, X, Tong X, Sandwell DT, Milliner CWD, Dolan JF, Hollingsworth J, Leprince S, Ayoub F.  2016.  Refining the shallow slip deficit. Geophysical Journal International. 204:1867-1886.   10.1093/gji/ggv563   Abstract

Geodetic slip inversions for three major (Mw > 7) strike-slip earthquakes (1992 Landers, 1999 Hector Mine and 2010 El Mayor–Cucapah) show a 15–60 per cent reduction in slip near the surface (depth < 2 km) relative to the slip at deeper depths (4–6 km). This significant difference between surface coseismic slip and slip at depth has been termed the shallow slip deficit (SSD). The large magnitude of this deficit has been an enigma since it cannot be explained by shallow creep during the interseismic period or by triggered slip from nearby earthquakes. One potential explanation for the SSD is that the previous geodetic inversions lack data coverage close to surface rupture such that the shallow portions of the slip models are poorly resolved and generally underestimated. In this study, we improve the static coseismic slip inversion for these three earthquakes, especially at shallow depths, by: (1) including data capturing the near-fault deformation from optical imagery and SAR azimuth offsets; (2) refining the interferometric synthetic aperture radar processing with non-boxcar phase filtering, model-dependent range corrections, more complete phase unwrapping by SNAPHU (Statistical Non-linear Approach for Phase Unwrapping) assuming a maximum discontinuity and an on-fault correlation mask; (3) using more detailed, geologically constrained fault geometries and (4) incorporating additional campaign global positioning system (GPS) data. The refined slip models result in much smaller SSDs of 3–19 per cent. We suspect that the remaining minor SSD for these earthquakes likely reflects a combination of our elastic model's inability to fully account for near-surface deformation, which will render our estimates of shallow slip minima, and potentially small amounts of interseismic fault creep or triggered slip, which could ‘make up’ a small percentages of the coseismic SSD during the interseismic period. Our results indicate that it is imperative that slip inversions include accurate measurements of near-fault surface deformation to reliably constrain spatial patterns of slip during major strike-slip earthquakes.

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Tong, X, Sandwell DT, Schmidt DA.  2018.  Surface creep rate and moment accumulation rate along the Aceh segment of the Sumatran Fault from L-band ALOS-1/PALSAR-1 observations. Geophysical Research Letters. 45:3404-3412.   10.1002/2017gl076723   AbstractWebsite

We analyzed the interferometric synthetic aperture radar data from the ALOS-1/PALSAR-1 satellite to image the interseismic deformation along the Sumatran fault. The interferometric synthetic aperture radar time series analysis reveals up to similar to 20 mm/year of aseismic creep on the Aceh segment along the Northern Sumatran fault. This is a large fraction of the total slip rate across this fault. The spatial extent of the aseismic creep extends for similar to 100 km. The along-strike variation of the aseismic creep has an inverse "U" shape. An analysis of the moment accumulation rate shows that the central part of the creeping section accumulates moment at approximately 50% of the rate of the surrounding locked segments. An initial analysis of temporal variations suggests that the creep rate may be decelerating with time, suggesting that the creep rate is adjusting to a stress perturbation from nearby seismic activity. Our study has implications to the earthquake hazard along the northern Sumatran fault.

Xu, XH, Ward LA, Jiang JL, Smith-Konter B, Tymofyeyeva E, Lindsey EO, Sylvester AG, Sandwell DT.  2018.  Surface creep rate of the southern San Andreas Fault modulated by stress perturbations from nearby large events. Geophysical Research Letters. 45:10259-10268.   10.1029/2018gl080137   AbstractWebsite

A major challenge for understanding the physics of shallow fault creep has been to observe and model the long-term effect of stress changes on creep rate. Here we investigate the surface creep along the southern San Andreas fault (SSAF) using data from interferometric synthetic aperture radar spanning over 25 years (ERS 1992-1999, ENVISAT 2003-2010, and Sentinel-1 2014-present). The main result of this analysis is that the average surface creep rate increased after the Landers event and then decreased by a factor of 2-7 over the past few decades. We consider quasi-static and dynamic Coulomb stress changes on the SSAF due to these three major events. From our analysis, the elevated creep rates after the Landers can only be explained by static stress changes, indicating that even in the presence of dynamically triggered creep, static stress changes may have a long-lasting effect on SSAF creep rates. Plain Language Summary There are two significant conclusions from this study. First, we analyzed 25 years of InSAR measurements over the Southern San Andreas Fault system to document a major increase in the average creep rate following the 1992 Mw 7.3 Landers Earthquake which is then followed by creep rate reductions after the 1999 Mw 7.1 Hector Mine Earthquake and the 2010 Mw 7.2 El Major Cucapah Earthquake. Second, we attribute all these creep rate changes to the Coulomb stress variations from these three major Earthquakes. The dynamic Coulomb stress changes are similar for all three events, contributing to triggered creep on the SSAF. In contrast, the static Coulomb stress changes on the SSAF are positive after the Landers and negative after the Hector Mine and El Major Cucapah, coinciding with the higher average creep rate after the Landers and lower rates after the other two events. An implication of this study is that small but steady Coulomb stress changes have a larger impact on shallow creep than the larger dynamic stress changes associated with passing seismic waves. These results illuminate the significance of time scale-dependent complexity of shallow fault creep and how these behaviors are communicated by stress perturbations from regional earthquakes.

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Gahagan, LM, Scotese CR, Royer JY, Sandwell DT, Winn JK, Tomlins RL, Ross MI, Newman JS, Muller RD, Mayes CL, Lawver LA, Heubeck CE.  1988.  Tectonic Fabric Map of the Ocean Basins from Satellite Altimetry Data. Tectonophysics. 155:1-&.   10.1016/0040-1951(88)90258-2   AbstractWebsite

Satellite altimetry data provide a new source of information on the bathymetry of the ocean floor. The tectonic fabric of the oceans (i.e., the arrangement of fracture zones, ridges, volcanic plateaus and trenches) is revealed by changes in the horizontal gravity gradient as recorded by satellite altimetry measurements. SEASAT and GEOSAT altimetry data have been analyzed and a global map of the horizontal gravity gradient has been produced that can be used to identify a variety of marine tectonic features. The uniformity of the satellite coverage provides greater resolution and continuity than maps based solely on ship-track data. This map is also the first global map to incorporate the results of the GEOSAT mission, and as a result, new tectonic features are revealed at high southerly latitudes.This map permits the extension of many tectonic features well beyond what was previously known. For instance, various fracture zones, such as the Ascension, Tasman, and Udintsev fracture zones, can be extended much closer to adjacent coninental margins. The tectonic fabric map also reveals many features that have not been previously mapped. These features include extinct ridges, minor fracture zone lineations and seamounts. In several areas, especially across aseismic plateaus or along the margins of the continents, the map displays broad gravity anomalies whose origin may be related to basement structures.

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Shum, CK, Werner RA, Sandwell DT, Zhang BH, Nerem RS, Tapley BD.  1990.  Variations of Global Mesoscale Eddy Energy Observed from GEOSAT. Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans. 95:17865-&.   10.1029/JC095iC10p17865   AbstractWebsite

The global distribution of eddy kinetic energy has been synoptically observed from analysis of the Geosat Exact Repeat Mission (ERM) altimeter data collected for a 2-year period from November 1986 through November 1988. Using a technique developed by Sandwell and Zhang (1989), altimeter data from forty-four 17-day repeat cycles (2 years) were processed into sea surface slopes along the satellite ground track, averaged, and filtered to produce a mean sea surface slope profile having an estimated accuracy of 0.2 μrad (2 cm sea level change over 100 km distance). A series of global eddy kinetic energy maps, each averaged over 3 months, and their mean were then generated. The maximum mean eddy kinetic energy per unit mass exceeds 2000 cm^2/s^2 for most of the western boundary currents; however, it only reaches approximately 500 cm^2/s^2 for the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). More than 65% of the world ocean has relatively low variability with an eddy kinetic energy of less than 300 cm^2/s^2. Results obtained from this study are in general agreement with other Geosat ocean variability studies (e.g., Zlotnicki et al., 1989). However, significantly higher variability is found when compared with either Seasat or ship drift data. Significant seasonal variations were found in the Gulf Stream and Kuroshio currents. The ACC system exhibits no apparent seasonal variation.

Smith-Konter, BR, Thornton GM, Sandwell DT.  2014.  Vertical crustal displacement due to interseismic deformation along the San Andreas fault: Constraints from tide gauges. Geophysical Research Letters. 41:3793-3801.   10.1002/2014gl060091   AbstractWebsite

Interseismic motion along complex strike-slip fault systems such as the San Andreas Fault System (SAFS) can produce vertical velocities that are similar to 10 times smaller than horizontal velocities, caused by along-strike variations in fault orientation and locking depth. Tide gauge stations provide a long (50-100 year) recording history of sea level change due to several oceanographic and geologic processes, including vertical earthquake cycle deformation. Here we compare relative sea level displacements with predictions from a 3-D elastic/viscoelastic earthquake cycle model of the SAFS. We find that models with lithospheric structure reflecting a thick elastic plate (> 50km) and moderate viscosities produce vertical motions in surprisingly good agreement with the relative tide gauge uplift rates. These results suggest that sea level variations along the California coastline contain a small but identifiable tectonic signal reflecting the flexure of the elastic plate caused by bending moments applied at the ends of locked faults.

Howell, S, Smith-Konter B, Frazer N, Tong XP, Sandwell D.  2016.  The vertical fingerprint of earthquake cycle loading in southern California. Nature Geoscience. 9:611-+.   10.1038/ngeo2741   AbstractWebsite

The San Andreas Fault System, one of the best-studied transform plate boundaries on Earth, is well known for its complex network of locked faults that slowly deform the crust in response to large-scale plate motions(1-8). Horizontal interseismic motions of the fault system are largely predictable, but vertical motions arising from tectonic sources remain enigmatic. Here we show that when carefully treated for spatial consistency, global positioning system-derived vertical velocities expose a small-amplitude (+/- 2mmyr(-1)), but spatially considerable (200 km), coherent pattern of uplift and subsidence straddling the fault system in southern California. We employ the statistical method of model selection to isolate this vertical velocity field fromnon-tectonic signals that induce velocity variations in both magnitude and direction across small distances (less than tens of kilometres; ref. 9), and find remarkable agreement with the sense of vertical motions predicted by physical earthquake cycle models spanning the past few centuries(6,10). We suggest that these motions reveal the subtle, but identifiable, tectonic fingerprint of far-field flexure due to more than 300 years of fault locking and creeping depth variability. Understanding this critical component of interseismic deformation at a complex strike-slip plate boundary will better constrain regional mechanics and crustal rheology, improving the quantification of seismic hazards in southern California and beyond.