Publications

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2014
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.

2011
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.

2010
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.

2009
Smith-Konter, B, Sandwell D.  2009.  Stress evolution of the San Andreas fault system: Recurrence interval versus locking depth. Geophysical Research Letters. 36   10.1029/2009gl037235   AbstractWebsite

Major ruptures along the San Andreas Fault System (SAFS) are driven by stress that has accumulated in the upper locked portion of the crust. The present-day stress accumulation rate on any given fault segment is fairly well resolved by current geodetic measurements. Model stress accumulation rates vary between 0.5 and 7 MPa per century and are inversely proportional to earthquake recurrence intervals. In contrast, the total accumulated stress on a given fault segment is poorly resolved since it depends on the uncertain rupture history of each fault over the past few thousand years. We simulate accumulated stress at crustal depths for both past and present-day conditions by assuming complete release of accumulated slip deficit during major ruptures. These speculative results indicate that the southern San Andreas, which has not ruptured in a major earthquake in over 300 years, is currently approaching a threshold stress level. Citation: Smith-Konter, B., and D. Sandwell (2009), Stress evolution of the San Andreas fault system: Recurrence interval versus locking depth, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L13304, doi: 10.1029/2009GL037235.

2002
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.

Sandwell, DT, Sichoix L, Smith B.  2002.  The 1999 Hector Mine earthquake, southern California: Vector near-field displacements from ERS InSAR. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 92:1341-1354.   10.1785/0120000901   AbstractWebsite

Two components of fault slip are uniquely determined from two line-of-sight (LOS) radar interferograms by assuming that the fault-normal component of displacement is zero. We use this approach with ascending and descending interferograms from the ERS satellites to estimate surface slip along the Hector Mine earthquake rupture. The LOS displacement is determined by visually counting fringes to within I kin of the outboard ruptures. These LOS estimates and uncertainties are then transformed into strike- and dip-slip estimates and uncertainties; the transformation is singular for a N-S oriented fault and optimal for an E-W oriented fault. In contrast to our previous strike-slip estimates, which were based only on a descending interferogram, we now find good agreement with the geological measurements, except at the ends of the rupture. The ascending interferogram reveals significant west-side-down dip-slip (similar to1.0 in) which reduces the strike-slip estimates by I to 2 in, especially along the northern half of the rupture. A spike in the strike-slip displacement of 6 m is observed in central part of the rupture. This large offset is confirmed by subpixel cross correlation of features in the before and after amplitude images. In addition to strike slip and dip slip, we identify uplift and subsidence along the fault, related to the restraining and releasing bends in the fault trace, respectively. Our main conclusion is that at least two look directions are required for accurate estimates of surface slip even along a pure strike-slip fault. Models and results based only on a single look direction could have major errors. Our new estimates of strike slip and dip slip along the rupture provide a boundary condition for dislocation modeling. A simple model, which has uniform slip to a depth of 12 km, shows good agreement with the observed ascending and descending interferograms.