Publications

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2019
Ross, ZE, Trugman DT, Hauksson E, Shearer PM.  2019.  Searching for hidden earthquakes in Southern California. Science. 364:767-+.   10.1126/science.aaw6888   AbstractWebsite

Earthquakes follow a well-known power-law size relation, with smaller events occurring much more often than larger events. Earthquake catalogs are thus dominated by small earthquakes yet are still missing a much larger number of even smaller events because of signal fidelity issues. To overcome these limitations, we applied a template-matching detection technique to the entire waveform archive of the regional seismic network in Southern California. This effort resulted in a catalog with 1.81 million earthquakes, a 10-fold increase, which provides important insights into the geometry of fault zones at depth, foreshock behavior and nucleation processes, and earthquake-triggering mechanisms. The rich detail resolved in this type of catalog will facilitate the next generation of analyses of earthquakes and faults.

2016
Fan, WY, Shearer PM.  2016.  Local near instantaneously dynamically triggered aftershocks of large earthquakes. Science. 353:1133-1136.   10.1126/science.aag0013   AbstractWebsite

Aftershocks are often triggered by static- and/or dynamic-stress changes caused by mainshocks. The relative importance of the two triggering mechanisms is controversial at near-to-intermediate distances. We detected and located 48 previously unidentified large early aftershocks triggered by earthquakes with magnitudes between >= 7 and 8 within a few fault lengths (approximately 300 kilometers), during times that high-amplitude surface waves arrive from the mainshock (less than 200 seconds). The observations indicate that near-to-intermediate-field dynamic triggering commonly exists and fundamentally promotes aftershock occurrence. The mainshocks and their nearby early aftershocks are located at major subduction zones and continental boundaries, and mainshocks with all types of faulting-mechanisms (normal, reverse, and strike-slip) can trigger early aftershocks.

Trugman, DT, Shearer PM, Borsa AA, Fialko Y.  2016.  A comparison of long-term changes in seismicity at The Geysers, Salton Sea, and Coso geothermal fields. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 121:225-247.   10.1002/2015jb012510   AbstractWebsite

Geothermal energy is an important source of renewable energy, yet its production is known to induce seismicity. Here we analyze seismicity at the three largest geothermal fields in California: The Geysers, Salton Sea, and Coso. We focus on resolving the temporal evolution of seismicity rates, which provides important observational constraints on how geothermal fields respond to natural and anthropogenic loading. We develop an iterative, regularized inversion procedure to partition the observed seismicity rate into two components: (1) the interaction rate due to earthquake-earthquake triggering and (2) the smoothly varying background rate controlled by other time-dependent stresses, including anthropogenic forcing. We apply our methodology to compare long-term changes in seismicity to monthly records of fluid injection and withdrawal. At The Geysers, we find that the background seismicity rate is highly correlated with fluid injection, with the mean rate increasing by approximately 50% and exhibiting strong seasonal fluctuations following construction of the Santa Rosa pipeline in 2003. In contrast, at both Salton Sea and Coso, the background seismicity rate has remained relatively stable since 1990, though both experience short-term rate fluctuations that are not obviously modulated by geothermal plant operation. We also observe significant temporal variations in Gutenberg-Richter b value, earthquake magnitude distribution, and earthquake depth distribution, providing further evidence for the dynamic evolution of stresses within these fields. The differing field-wide responses to fluid injection and withdrawal may reflect differences in in situ reservoir conditions and local tectonics, suggesting that a complex interplay of natural and anthropogenic stressing controls seismicity within California's geothermal fields.

2012
Yang, WZ, Hauksson E, Shearer PM.  2012.  Computing a Large Refined Catalog of Focal Mechanisms for Southern California (1981-2010): Temporal Stability of the Style of Faulting. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 102:1179-1194.   10.1785/0120110311   AbstractWebsite

Using the method developed by Hardebeck and Shearer (2002, 2003) termed the HASH method, we calculate focal mechanisms for earthquakes that occurred in the southern California region from 1981 to 2010. When available, we use hypocenters refined with differential travel times from waveform cross correlation. Using both the P-wave first motion polarities and the S/P amplitude ratios computed from three-component seismograms, we determine mechanisms for more than 480,000 earthquakes and analyze the statistical features of the whole catalog. We filter the preliminary catalog with criteria associated with mean nodal plane uncertainty and azimuthal gap and obtain a high-quality catalog with approximately 179,000 focal mechanisms. As more S/P amplitude ratios become available after 2000, the average nodal plane uncertainty decreases significantly compared with mechanisms that include only P-wave polarities. In general the parameters of the focal mechanisms have been stable during the three decades. The dominant style of faulting is high angle strike-slip faulting with the most likely P axis centered at N5 degrees E. For earthquakes of M < 2.5, there are more normal-faulting events than reverse-faulting events, while the opposite holds for M > 2.5 events. Using the 210 moment-tensor solutions in Tape et al. (2010) as benchmarks, we compare the focal plane rotation angles of common events in the catalog. Seventy percent of common earthquakes match well with rotation angles less than the typical nodal plane uncertainty. The common events with relatively large rotation angles are either located around the edge of the (SCSN) network or poorly recorded.

2011
Castro, RR, Valdes-Gonzalez C, Shearer P, Wong V, Astiz L, Vernon F, Perez-Vertti A, Mendoza A.  2011.  The 3 August 2009 M-w 6.9 Canal de Ballenas Region, Gulf of California, Earthquake and Its Aftershocks. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 101:929-939.   10.1785/0120100154   AbstractWebsite

On 3 August 2009 an earthquake of magnitude M-w 6.9 occurred near Canal de Ballenas, in the north-central region of the Gulf of California, Mexico. The focal mechanism of the main event, reported in the Global Centroid Moment Tensor (CMT) catalog, is right lateral strike-slip with a strike of 216 degrees and a dip of 78 degrees. The initial location reported by the National Seismological Service of Mexico [Servicio Sismologico Nacional (SSN)] and the Array Network Facility (ANF) suggested that the epicenter was on the North American plate near the Tiburon fault, which is considered inactive. This earthquake was preceded by a magnitude m(b) 5.5 event that occurred about 5 min before. In the next 40 min after the main event two aftershocks with magnitudes m(b) 4.9 and M-w 6.2 occurred, and on 5 August a third aftershock of M-w 5.7 was located in the Canal de Ballenas region. The events of August 2009 were recorded by the regional stations of the broadband network Red Sismologica de Banda Ancha (RESBAN) that Centro de Investigacion Cientifica y de Educacion Superior de Ensenada (CICESE) operates and by stations of the SSN also located in the region of the Gulf of California. We used body-wave arrivals to determine precise epicentral locations and to estimate the rupture area of this important sequence of earthquakes. The resulting hypocentral coordinates indicate that the main event of this sequence occurred along the Canal de Ballenas transform fault, with a rupture length of 50 km. Based on the aftershock distribution, we estimate that the main event had a rupture area of approximately 600 km(2), an average slip of 1.3 m, and a stress drop of 2.2 MPa.

2010
Castro, RR, Shearer PM, Astiz L, Suter M, Jacques-Ayala C, Vernon F.  2010.  The Long-Lasting Aftershock Series of the 3 May 1887 M-w 7.5 Sonora Earthquake in the Mexican Basin and Range Province. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 100:1153-1164.   10.1785/0120090180   AbstractWebsite

We study local and regional body-wave arrival times from several seismic networks to better define the active regional fault pattern in the epicentral region of the 3 May 1887 M-w 7.5 Sonora, Mexico (southern Basin and Range Province) earthquake. We determine hypocenter coordinates of earthquakes that originated between 2003 and 2007 from arrival times recorded by the local network RESNES (Red Sismica del Noreste de Sonora) and stations of the Network of Autonomously Recording Seismographs (NARS)-Baja array. For events between April and December 2007, we also incorporated arrival times from USArray stations located within 150 km of the United States-Mexico border. We first obtained preliminary earthquake locations with the Hypoinverse program (Klein, 2002) and then relocated these initial hypocenter coordinates with the source-specific station term (SSST) method (Lin and Shearer, 2005). Most relocated epicenters cluster in the upper crust near the faults that ruptured during the 1887 earthquake and can be interpreted to be part of its long-lasting series of aftershocks. The region of aftershock activity extends, along the same fault zone, 40-50 km south of the documented southern tip of the 1887 rupture and includes faults in the epicentral region of the 17 May 1913 (I-max VIII, M-I 5.0-0.4) and 18 December 1923 (I-max IX, M-I 5.7-0.4) Granados-Huasabas, Sonora, earthquakes, which themselves are likely to be aftershocks of the 1887 event. The long aftershock duration can be explained by the unusually large magnitude of the mainshock and by the low slip rates and long mainshock recurrence times of the faults that ruptured in 1887.