Publications

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2016
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.

2013
Crowell, BW, Bock Y, Sandwell DT, Fialko Y.  2013.  Geodetic investigation into the deformation of the Salton Trough. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 118:5030-5039.   10.1002/jgrb.50347   AbstractWebsite

The Salton Trough represents a complex transition between the spreading center in Baja California and the strike-slip San Andreas fault system and is one of the most active zones of deformation and seismicity in California. We present a high-resolution interseismic velocity field for the Salton Trough derived from 74 continuous GPS sites and 109 benchmarks surveyed in three GPS campaigns during 2008-2009 and previous surveys between 2000 and 2005. We also investigate small-scale deformation by removing the regional velocity field predicted by an elastic block model for Southern California from the observed velocities. We find a total extension rate of 11mm/yr from the Mesquite Basin to the southern edge of the San Andreas Fault, coupled with 15mm/yr of left-lateral shear, the majority of which is concentrated in the southern Salton Sea and Obsidian Buttes and is equivalent to 17mm/yr oriented in the direction of the San Andreas Fault. Differential shear strain is exclusively localized in the Brawley Seismic Zone, and dilatation rate indicates widespread extension throughout the zone. In addition, we infer clockwise rotation of 10 degrees/Ma, consistent with northwestward propagation of the Brawley Seismic Zone over geologic time.

2010
Wei, M, Sandwell D, Smith-Konter B.  2010.  Optimal combination of InSAR and GPS for measuring interseismic crustal deformation. Advances in Space Research. 46:236-249.   10.1016/j.asr.2010.03.013   AbstractWebsite

High spatial resolution measurements of interseismic deformation along major faults are critical for understanding the earthquake cycle and for assessing earthquake hazard. We propose a new remove/filter/restore technique to optimally combine GPS and InSAR data to measure interseismic crustal deformation, considering the spacing of GPS stations in California and the characteristics of interseismic signal and noise using InSAR. To constrain the longer wavelengths (>40 km) we use GPS measurements, combined with a dislocation model, and for the shorter wavelength information we rely on InSAR measurements. Expanding the standard techniques, which use a planar ramp to remove long wavelength error, we use a Gaussian filter technique. Our method has the advantage of increasing the signal-to-noise ratio, controlling the variance of atmosphere error, and being isotropic. Our theoretical analysis indicates this technique can improve the signal-to-noise ratio by up to 20%. We test this method along three segments of the San Andreas Fault (Southern section near Salton Sea, Creeping section near Parkfield and Mojave/Big Bend section near Los Angeles), and find improvements of 26%, 11% and 8% in these areas, respectively. Our data shows a zone of uplift to the west of the Creeping section of the San Andreas Fault and an area of subsidence near the city of Lancaster. This work suggests that after only 5 years of data collection, ALOS interferograms will provide a major improvement in measuring details of interseismic deformation. (C) 2010 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.