Publications

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2014
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

2011
Smith-Konter, BR, Sandwell DT, Shearer P.  2011.  Locking depths estimated from geodesy and seismology along the San Andreas Fault System: Implications for seismic moment release. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 116   10.1029/2010jb008117   AbstractWebsite

The depth of the seismogenic zone is a critical parameter for earthquake hazard models. Independent observations from seismology and geodesy can provide insight into the depths of faulting, but these depths do not always agree. Here we inspect variations in fault depths of 12 segments of the southern San Andreas Fault System derived from over 1000 GPS velocities and 66,000 relocated earthquake hypocenters. Geodetically determined locking depths range from 6 to 22 km, while seismogenic thicknesses are largely limited to depths of 11-20 km. These seismogenic depths best match the geodetic locking depths when estimated at the 95% cutoff depth in seismicity, and most fault segment depths agree to within 2 km. However, the Imperial, Coyote Creek, and Borrego segments have significant discrepancies. In these cases the geodetically inferred locking depths are much shallower than the seismogenic depths. We also examine variations in seismic moment accumulation rate per unit fault length as suggested by seismicity and geodesy and find that both approaches yield high rates ( 1.5-1.8 x 10(13) Nm/yr/km) along the Mojave and Carrizo segments and low rates (similar to 0.2 x 1013 Nm/yr/km) along several San Jacinto segments. The largest difference in seismic moment between models is calculated for the Imperial segment, where the moment rate from seismic depths is a factor of similar to 2.5 larger than that from geodetic depths. Such variability has important implications for the accuracy to which future major earthquake magnitudes can be estimated.

2002
Mellors, RJ, Sichoix L, Sandwell DT.  2002.  Lack of precursory slip to the 1999 Hector Mine, California, earthquake as constrained by InSAR. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 92:1443-1449.   10.1785/0120010244   AbstractWebsite

We looked for evidence of interseismic strain occurring between the 1992 Landers earthquake and the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake near the Lavic Lake and Bullion faults by using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR). Interferograms covering the Hector Mine epicentral region were studied for possible slip along the Bullion and Lavic Lake faults by both visual inspection and a matched filter technique intended to emphasize slip located at the nucleation point. Some indications of possible deformation associated with the 5 July 1992 M-L 5.4 Pisgah event was observed, but high decorrelation prevented a conclusive determination. We have seen no evidence for precursory slip in the epicentral region up to 30 days before the Hector Mine event. We estimated that the slip equivalent to a M-w 4.5 event would have been observable in the months before the Hector Mine event, and this places an upper bound on the long-term precursory slip, had it occurred. We have noted that InSAR is well suited for detecting precursory slip in general due to the high spatial resolution and the lack of ground instrumentation required but that the detection level depends on the depth and orientation of the slip.

Baer, G, Schattner U, Wachs D, Sandwell D, Wdowinski S, Frydman S.  2002.  The lowest place on Earth is subsiding - An InSAR (interferometric synthetic aperture radar) perspective. Geological Society of America Bulletin. 114:12-23.   10.1130/0016-7606(2002)114<0012:tlpoei>2.0.co;2   AbstractWebsite

Since the early 1990s, sinkholes and wide, shallow subsidence features (WSSFs) have become major problems along the Dead Sea shores in Israel and Jordan. Sinkholes are readily observed in the field, but their locations and timing are unpredictable. WSSFs are often difficult to observe in the field. However, once identified, they delineate zones of instability and increasing hazard. In this study we identify, characterize, and measure rates of subsidence along the Dead Sea shores by the interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) technique. We analyze 16 SAR scenes acquired during the years 1992 to 1999 by the European Remote Sensing ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites. The interferograms span periods of between 2 and 71 months. WSSFs are observed in the Lisan Peninsula and along the Dead Sea shores, in a variety of appearances, including circular and elongate coastal depressions (a few hundred meters to a few kilometers in length), depressions in ancient alluvial fans, and depressions along salt-diapir margins. Phase differences measured in our interferograms correspond to subsidence rates generally in the range of 0-20 mm/yr within the studied period, with exceptional high rates that exceed 60 mm/yr in two specific regions. During the study period, the level of the Dead Sea and of the associated ground water has dropped by similar to6 m. This water-level drop within an aquifer overlying fine-grained, marly layers, would be expected to have caused aquifer-system consolidation resulting in gradual subsidence. Comparison of our InSAR observations with calculations of the expected consolidation shows that in areas where marl layers are known to compose part of the upper 30 m of the profile, estimated consolidation settlements are of the order of the measured subsidence. Our observations also show that in certain locations, subsidence appears to be structurally controlled by faults, seaward landslides, and salt domes. Gradual subsidence is unlikely to be directly related to the sinkholes, excluding the use of the WSSFs features as predictable precursors to sinkhole formation.

1997
Phiilips, RJ, Johnson CL, Mackwell SJ, Morgan P, Sandwell DT, Zuber MT.  1997.  Lithospheric Mechanics and Dynamics of Venus. Venus II--geology, geophysics, atmosphere, and solar wind environment. ( Bougher SW, Hunten DM, Phillips RJ, Eds.)., Tucson, Ariz.: University of Arizona Press Abstract
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1995
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.

1994
Johnson, CL, Sandwell DT.  1994.  Lithospheric Flexure on Venus. Geophysical Journal International. 119:627-647.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.1994.tb00146.x   AbstractWebsite

Topographic flexural signatures on Venus are generally associated with the outer edges of coronae, with some chasmata and with rift zones. Using Magellan altimetry profiles and grids of venusian topography, we identified 17 potential flexure sites. Both 2-D cartesian, and 2-D axisymmetric, thin-elastic plate models were used to establish the flexural parameter and applied load/bending moment. These parameters can be used to infer the thickness, strength and possibly the dynamics of the venusian lithosphere. Numerical simulations show that the 2-D model provides an accurate representation of the flexural parameter as long as the radius of the feature is several times the flexural parameter. However, an axisymmetric model must be used to obtain a reliable estimate of load/bending moment. 12 of the 17 areas were modelled with a 2-D thin elastic plate model, yielding best-fit effective elastic thicknesses in the range 12 to 34 km. We find no convincing evidence for flexure around smaller coronae, though five possible candidates have been identified. These five features show circumferential topographic signatures which, if interpreted as flexure, yield mean elastic thicknesses ranging from 6 to 22 km. We adopt a yield strength envelope for the venusian lithosphere based on a dry olivine rheology and on the additional assumption that strain rates on Venus are similar to, or lower than, strain rates on Earth. Many of the flexural signatures correspond to relatively high plate-bending curvatures so the upper and lower parts of the lithosphere should theoretically exhibit brittle fracture and flow, respectively. For areas where the curvatures are not too extreme, the estimated elastic thickness is used to estimate the larger mechanical thickness of the lithosphere. The large amplitude flexures in Aphrodite Terra predict complete failure of the plate, rendering mechanical thickness estimates from these features unreliable. One smaller corona also yielded an unreliable mechanical thickness estimate based on the marginal quality of the profile data. Reliable mechanical thicknesses found by forward modelling in this study are 21 km-37 km, significantly greater than the 13 km-20 km predictions based on heat-flow scaling arguments and chondritic thermal models. If the modelled topography is the result of lithospheric flexure, then our results for mechanical thickness, combined with the lack of evidence for flexure around smaller features, are consistent with a venusian lithosphere somewhat thicker than predicted. Dynamical models for bending of a viscous lithosphere at low strain rates predict a thick lithosphere, also consistent with low temperature gradients. Recent laboratory measurements indicate that dry crustal materials are much stronger than previously believed. Corresponding time-scales for gravitational relaxation are 10(8)-10(9) yr, making gravitational relaxation an unlikely mechanism for the generation of the few inferred flexural features. If dry olivine is also found to be stronger than previously believed, the mechanical thickness estimates for Venus will be reduced, and will be more consistent with the predictions of global heat scaling models.

1982
Sandwell, D, Schubert G.  1982.  Lithospheric Flexure at Fracture-Zones. Journal of Geophysical Research. 87:4657-4667.   10.1029/JB087iB06p04657   AbstractWebsite

Bathymetric profiles across six major fracture zones (FZ's) in the North Pacific are used to demonstrate the absence of vertical slip on the fossil fault planes. The scarp heights on these FZ's are constant with age and equal to the initial vertical offsets at the ridge-transform fault-FZ intersections. Because of the frozen-in scarp and the differential subsidence of lithosphere far from the FZ, the lithosphere bends in the vicinity of the FZ. This flexure results in a characteristic ridge-trough topographic FZ signature. The flexural amplitude, which is the difference between the scarp height and the overall change in depth across the FZ, increases with age. Good fits to the bathymetric profiles across the Mendocino and Pioneer FZ's are obtained by modelling the topography as the flexure of a thin elastic plate with an age-dependent effective elastic thickness. Results of the modelling indicate that the base of the elastic lithosphere is approximately defined by the 450°C isotherm. Maximum bending stresses at FZ's are on the order of 100 MPa, substantially less than the stresses encountered at subduction zones. Because the Mendocino and Pioneer FZ's are separated by less than a flexural wavelength, they are elastically coupled.