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Journal Article
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.

Xu, XH, Sandwell DT, Bassett D.  2018.  A spectral expansion approach for geodetic slip inversion: implications for the downdip rupture limits of oceanic and continental megathrust earthquakes. Geophysical Journal International. 212:400-411.   10.1093/gji/ggx408   AbstractWebsite

We have developed a data-driven spectral expansion inversion method to place bounds on the downdip rupture depth of large megathrust earthquakes having good InSAR and GPS coverage. This inverse theory approach is used to establish the set of models that are consistent with the observations. In addition, the inverse theory method demonstrates that the spatial resolution of the slip models depends on two factors, the spatial coverage and accuracy of the surface deformation measurements, and the slip depth. Application of this method to the 2010 M-w 8.8 Maule Earthquake shows a slip maximum at 19 km depth tapering to zero at similar to 40 km depth. In contrast, the continent-continent megathrust earthquakes of the Himalayas, for example 2015 M-w 7.8 Gorkha Earthquake, shows a slip maximum at 9 km depth tapering to zero at similar to 18 km depth. The main question is why is the maximum slip depth of the continental megathrust earthquake only 50 per cent of that observed in oceanic megathrust earthquakes. To understand this difference, we have developed a simple 1-D heat conduction model that includes the effects of uplift and surface erosion. The relatively low erosion rates above the ocean megathrust results in a geotherm where the 450-600 degrees C transition is centred at similar to 40 km depth. In contrast, the relatively high average erosion rates in the Himalayas of similar to 1 mm yr-1 results in a geotherm where the 450-600 degrees C transition is centred at similar to 20 km. Based on these new observations and models, we suggest that the effect of erosion rate on temperature explains the difference in the maximum depth of the seismogenic zone between Chile and the Himalayas.

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.