Publications

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2018
Fan, WY, Shearer PM.  2018.  Coherent Seismic Arrivals in the P Wave Coda of the 2012 M(w)7.2 Sumatra Earthquake: Water Reverberations or an Early Aftershock? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 123:3147-3159.   10.1002/2018jb015573   AbstractWebsite

Teleseismic records of the 2012M(w)7.2 Sumatra earthquake contain prominent phases in the P wave train, arriving about 50 to 100s after the direct P arrival. Azimuthal variations in these arrivals, together with back-projection analysis, led Fan and Shearer (, ) to conclude that they originated from early aftershock(s), located approximate to 150 km northeast of the mainshock and landward of the trench. However, recently, Yue et al. (, ) argued that the anomalous arrivals are more likely water reverberations from the mainshock, based mostly on empirical Green's function analysis of a M6 earthquake near the mainshock and a water phase synthetic test. Here we present detailed back-projection and waveform analyses of three M6 earthquakes within 100km of the M(w)7.2 earthquake, including the empirical Green's function event analyzed in Yue et al. (, ). In addition, we examine the waveforms of three M5.5 reverse-faulting earthquakes close to the inferred early aftershock location in Fan and Shearer (, ). These results suggest that the reverberatory character of the anomalous arrivals in the mainshock coda is consistent with water reverberations, but the origin of this energy is more likely an early aftershock rather than delayed and displaced water reverberations from the mainshock.

2017
Fan, WY, Bassett D, Jiang JL, Shearer PM, Ji C.  2017.  Rupture evolution of the 2006 Java tsunami earthquake and the possible role of splay faults. Tectonophysics. 721:143-150.   10.1016/j.tecto.2017.10.003   AbstractWebsite

The 2006 Mw 7.8 Java earthquake was a tsunami earthquake, exhibiting frequency-dependent seismic radiation along strike. High-frequency global back-projection results suggest two distinct rupture stages. The first stage lasted similar to 65 s with a rupture speed of similar to 1.2 km/s, while the second stage lasted from similar to 65 to 150 s with a rupture speed of similar to 2.7 km/s. High-frequency radiators resolved with back-projection during the second stage spatially correlate with splay fault traces mapped from residual free-air gravity anomalies. These splay faults also colocate with a major tsunami source associated with the earthquake inferred from tsunami first-crest back-propagation simulation. These correlations suggest that the splay faults may have been reactivated during the Java earthquake, as has been proposed for other tsunamigenic earthquakes, such as the 1944 Mw 8.1 Tonankai earthquake in the Nankai Trough.

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.

Fan, WY, Shearer PM, Ji C, Bassett D.  2016.  Multiple branching rupture of the 2009 Tonga-Samoa earthquake. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 121:5809-5827.   10.1002/2016jb012945   AbstractWebsite

Several source models have been proposed to explain the enigmatic 2009 Tonga-Samoa earthquake. The long-period data require a composite source model and can be fit with a normal-faulting subevent followed by one or more reverse-faulting subevents. The short-period data, in contrast, indicate a more compact rupture pattern around the epicenter. The lack of a unified source model reflects the complexity of the event. We analyze the spatiotemporal evolution of this earthquake with P wave back-projection from globally distributed stations in different frequency bands (low frequency: 0.05-0.2Hz, high frequency: 0.2-2Hz) and a multiple moment tensor inversion. The rupture propagation revealed by back-projection exhibits frequency-dependent behavior, with two branches of high-frequency-enriched bilateral rupture around the epicenter and a high-frequency-deficient rupture branch at the subduction interface. A composite source model with one M(w)8.0 normal-faulting earthquake east of the trench axis (seaward) followed by one M(w)8.1 reverse-faulting earthquake along the subduction interface west of the trench axis (landward) can explain the very long period data (200 approximate to 500s). Combined with high-resolution swath bathymetry data, the back-projection images show that the azimuth of rupture branches east of the trench axis were controlled by the geometry of bending-related faults on the Pacific plate and that the rupture branch west of the trench axis may correlate with the along-strike fore-arc segmentation. The rupture along the subduction interface was triggered by the seaward rupture and a partially subducted normal fault may have played a key role in facilitating the triggering. The apparent normal-reverse faulting interactions pose a higher seismic risk to this region than their individual strands at the northernmost corner of the Tonga subduction zone.

2015
Lin, GQ, Amelung F, Shearer PM, Okubo PG.  2015.  Location and size of the shallow magma reservoir beneath Klauea caldera, constraints from near-source V-p/V-s ratios. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:8349-8357.   10.1002/2015gl065802   AbstractWebsite

We present high-resolution compressional wave to shear wave velocity ratios (V-p/V-s) beneath Klauea's summit caldera by applying an in situ estimation method using waveform cross-correlation data for three similar earthquake clusters. We observe high V-p/V-s ratios (1.832 and 1.852) for two event clusters surrounded by the low background V-p/V-s value of 1.412 at similar to 2.1km depth below the surface. These high and low V-p/V-s ratios can be explained by melt- and CO2-filled cracks, respectively, based on a theoretical crack model. The event cluster with the highest V-p/V-s ratio consists of long-period events that followed the 1997 East Rift Zone eruption, indicating their association with fluid and magma movement. The depths of the two clusters with high V-p/V-s ratios are consistent with the magma reservoir location inferred from geodetic observations. Their locations east and north of Halemaumau crater suggest a horizontal extent of a few kilometers for the reservoir.

Denolle, MA, Fan WY, Shearer PM.  2015.  Dynamics of the 2015 M7.8 Nepal earthquake. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:7467-7475.   10.1002/2015gl065336   AbstractWebsite

The 2015 M7.8 Nepal earthquake ruptured part of the Main Himalayan Thrust beneath Kathmandu. To study the dynamics of this event, we compute P wave spectra of the main shock and of two large aftershocks to estimate stress drop and radiated energy. We find that surface reflections (depth phases) of these shallow earthquakes produce interference that severely biases spectral measurements unless corrections are applied. Measures of earthquake dynamics for the main shock are within the range of estimates from global and regional earthquakes. We explore the azimuthal and temporal variations of radiated energy and highlight unique aspects of the M7.8 rupture. The beginning of the earthquake likely experienced a dynamic weakening mechanism immediately followed by an abrupt change in fault geometry. Correlation of backprojection results with frequency-dependent variations in the radiated energy rate and with the suggested geometry of the Main Himalayan Thrust yields new constraints on dynamic ruptures through geometrical barriers.

Fan, WY, Shearer PM.  2015.  Detailed rupture imaging of the 25 April 2015 Nepal earthquake using teleseismic P waves. Geophysical Research Letters. 42:5744-5752.   10.1002/2015gl064587   AbstractWebsite

We analyze the rupture process of the 25 April 2015 Nepal earthquake with globally recorded teleseismic P waves. The rupture propagated east-southeast from the hypocenter for about 160km with a duration of similar to 55s. Backprojection of both high-frequency (HF, 0.2 to 3Hz) and low-frequency (LF, 0.05 to 0.2Hz) P waves suggest a multistage rupture process. From the low-frequency images, we resolve an initial slow downdip (northward) rupture near the nucleation area for the first 20s (Stage 1), followed by two faster updip ruptures (20 to 40s for Stage 2 and 40 to 55s for Stage 3), which released most of the radiated energy northeast of Kathmandu. The centroid rupture power from LF backprojection agrees well with the Global Centroid Moment Tensor solution. The spatial resolution of the backprojection images is validated by applying similar analysis to nearby aftershocks. The overall rupture pattern agrees well with the aftershock distribution. A multiple-asperity model could explain the observed multistage rupture and aftershock distribution.

2014
Fan, WY, Shearer PM, Gerstoft P.  2014.  Kinematic earthquake rupture inversion in the frequency domain. Geophysical Journal International. 199:1138-1160.   10.1093/gji/ggu319   AbstractWebsite

We develop a frequency-based approach to earthquake slip inversion that requires no prior information on the rupture velocity or slip-rate functions. Because the inversion is linear and is performed separately at each frequency, it is computationally efficient and suited to imaging the finest resolvable spatial details of rupture. We demonstrate the approach on synthetic seismograms based on the Source Inversion Validation Exercise 1 (SIV1) of a crustal M-w 6.6 strike-slip earthquake recorded locally. A robust inversion approach is obtained by applying a combination of damping, smoothing and forcing zero slip at the edge of the fault model. This approach achieves reasonable data fits, overall agreement to the SIV1 model, including slip-rate functions of each subfault, from which its total slip, slip time history and rupture velocity can be extracted. We demonstrate the method's robustness by exploring the effects of noise, random timing errors, and fault geometry errors. The worst effects on the inversion are seen from errors in the assumed fault geometry.

2013
Chen, XW, Shearer PM.  2013.  California foreshock sequences suggest aseismic triggering process. Geophysical Research Letters. 40:2602-2607.   10.1002/grl.50444   AbstractWebsite

Foreshocks are one of the few well-documented precursors to large earthquakes; therefore, understanding their nature is very important for earthquake prediction and hazard mitigation. However, the triggering role of foreshocks is not yet clear. It is possible that foreshocks are a self-triggering cascade of events that simply happen to trigger an unusually large aftershock; alternatively, foreshocks might originate from an external aseismic process that ultimately triggers the mainshock. In the former case, the foreshocks will have limited utility for forecasting. The latter case has been observed for several individual large earthquakes; however, it remains unclear how common it is and how to distinguish foreshock sequences from other seismicity clusters that do not lead to large earthquakes. Here we analyze foreshocks of three M>7 mainshocks in southern California. These foreshock sequences appear similar to earthquake swarms, in that they do not start with their largest events and they exhibit spatial migration of seismicity. Analysis of source spectra shows that all three foreshock sequences feature lower average stress drops and depletion of high-frequency energy compared with the aftershocks of their corresponding mainshocks. Using a longer-term stress-drop catalog, we find that the average stress drop of the Landers and Hector Mine foreshock sequences is comparable to nearby swarms. Our observations suggest that these foreshock sequences are manifestations of aseismic transients occurring close to the mainshock hypocenters, possibly related to localized fault zone complexity, which have promoted the occurrence of both the foreshocks and the eventual mainshock.

2011
Kane, DL, Prieto GA, Vernon FL, Shearer PM.  2011.  Quantifying Seismic Source Parameter Uncertainties. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 101:535-543.   10.1785/0120100166   AbstractWebsite

We use data from a small aperture array in southern California to quantify variations in source parameter estimates at closely spaced stations (distances ranging from similar to 7 to 350 m) to provide constraints on parameter uncertainties. Many studies do not consider uncertainties in these estimates even though they can be significant and have important implications for studies of earthquake source physics. Here, we estimate seismic source parameters in the frequency domain using empirical Green's function (EGF) methods to remove effects of the travel paths between earthquakes and their recording stations. We examine uncertainties in our estimates by quantifying the resulting distributions over all stations in the array. For coseismic stress drop estimates, we find that minimum uncertainties of similar to 30% of the estimate can be expected. To test the robustness of our results, we explore variations of the dataset using different groupings of stations, different source regions, and different EGF earthquakes. Although these differences affect our absolute estimates of stress drop, they do not greatly influence the spread in our resulting estimates. These sensitivity tests show that station selection is not the primary contribution to the uncertainties in our parameter estimates for single stations. We conclude that establishing reliable methods of estimating uncertainties in source parameter estimates (including corner frequencies, source durations, and coseismic static stress drops) is essential, particularly when the results are used in the comparisons among different studies over a range of earthquake magnitudes and locations.

2009
Walker, KT, Shearer PM.  2009.  Illuminating the near-sonic rupture velocities of the intracontinental Kokoxili M-w 7.8 and Denali fault M-w 7.9 strike-slip earthquakes with global P wave back projection imaging. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb005738   AbstractWebsite

The Denali and Kokoxili strike-slip earthquakes are two of the longest recent intracontinental ruptures. Previous studies report a range of rupture velocities. Here we image these earthquakes by reverse time migration of the intermediate-frequency P wave train recorded by global broadband seismometers. This technique permits a relatively direct measure of rupture velocity (speed and direction) as constrained by the radiated seismic energy, free from restrictive assumptions or rupture speed bounds placed on the solution. We compare our results with published seismic, GPS displacement, and surface slip inversion results. Both ruptures were initially subshear and transitioned over a distance no longer than 40 km to supershear speeds close to the P wave speed of similar to 5.6 km/s. We investigate the accuracy of our results with synthetic data and experiment with using different imaging parameters and seismic subnetworks. These tests allow us to rule out the possibility of subshear speeds along the supershear segments. Although we cannot exclude supershear speeds of 4.5-6.5 km/s, our most reliable rupture velocities of similar to 5.6 km/s are close to the local P wave speeds. We hypothesize that these intracontinental faults have weak shear strengths or high breakdown slips or crustal rigidities and experience at least moderate slip or slip rate weakening. Our observations and previous published results lead us to speculate that very long, surface-extending faults with general homogeneity in prestress and fault strength, together with smaller adjacent fault segments to provide triggering, may be necessary ingredients for the sub-Rayleigh to supershear rupture speed transition in strike-slip earthquakes.

2007
Ishii, M, Shearer PM, Houston H, Vidale JE.  2007.  Teleseismic P wave imaging of the 26 December 2004 Sumatra-Andaman and 28 March 2005 Sumatra earthquake ruptures using the Hi-net array. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 112   10.1029/2006jb004700   AbstractWebsite

Seismograms from a dense, high-quality seismic network in Japan are used to investigate the characteristics of the 26 December 2004 Sumatra-Andaman and the 28 March 2005 Sumatran earthquakes. The onset of the P waveforms are aligned through cross correlation, and a simple concept of back-projecting seismic energy to a grid of potential source locations is applied. The waveform alignment removes the effects due to lateral variations in wave speed between the hypocenter and each station. To better approximate the effects of three-dimensional heterogeneity for paths originating from grid points away from the hypocenter, cross-correlation results of the P waveforms from aftershocks are introduced. This additional information leads to improved resolution of smaller-scale features near many of the aftershocks by reducing wavefront distortion. The back-projection analysis provides a quick assessment of the spatiotemporal extent and variability of relative high-frequency energy release, which can be translated into an estimate of the moment magnitude, as well as an unparalleled view of high-frequency rupture propagation. The results are, in general, consistent with those obtained from more involved source inversion methods. The 2004 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake released most energy in a region northwest of the Sumatra island and the rupture extended to the northern Andaman islands, about 1300 km from the epicenter. This northern portion of the rupture radiated a considerable amount of energy, but there is little evidence of slow slip. The 2005 event is imaged to have bilateral rupture with northwestern slip occurring for about 50 s before it moved to the southeast of the epicenter.

2004
Grant, LB, Shearer PM.  2004.  Activity of the offshore Newport-Inglewood Rose Canyon fault zone, coastal southern California, from relocated microseismicity. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 94:747-752.   10.1785/0120030149   AbstractWebsite

An offshore zone of faulting approximately 10 km from the southern California coast connects the seismically active strike-slip Newport-Inglewood fault zone in the Los Angeles metropolitan region with the active Rose Canyon fault zone in the San Diego area. Relatively little seismicity has been recorded along the offshore Newport-Inglewood Rose Canyon fault zone, although it has long been suspected of being seismogenic. Active low-angle thrust faults and Quaternary folds have been imaged by seismic reflection profiling along the offshore fault zone, raising the question of whether a through-going, active strike-slip fault zone exists. We applied a waveform cross-correlation algorithm to identify clusters of microseis-micity consisting of similar events. Analysis of two clusters along the offshore fault zone shows that they are associated with nearly vertical, north-northwest-striking faults, consistent with an offshore extension of the Newport-Inglewood and Rose Canyon strike-slip fault zones. P-wave polarities from a 1981 event cluster are consistent with a right-lateral strike-slip focal mechanism solution.

1997
RichardsDinger, KB, Shearer PM.  1997.  Estimating crustal thickness in southern California by stacking PmP arrivals. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 102:15211-15224.   10.1029/97jb00883   AbstractWebsite

We use observations of the Moho-reflected phase PmP to constrain crustal thicknesses and upper mantle velocities in southern California. We stack normalized absolute values of seismograms from local events in time and range bins after aligning on the initial P arrival and applying a range correction to adjust the various source depths to the surface. Although most individual. seismograms do not allow accurate determination of a PmP arrival time, imaging the whole data set in this way shows clear PmP arrivals at ranges from about 90 km to over 250 km. PmP-Pg and PmP-Pn differential times can be measured from the image and used to estimate the Moho depth and upper mantle velocity. For southern California, we obtain an average crustal thickness of 28 km and an upper mantle velocity of 7.8 km/s. Next, we map lateral variations by repeating this procedure for stacks of subsets of the data in which the traces are grouped in caps by Moho reflection point. Estimates of Moho depth range from 18 km in the Salton Trough to 33 km beneath the eastern Transverse Ranges and 36 km beneath the southernmost Sierra Nevada. The upper mantle velocities generally increase from southwest to northeast across the region. We also map postcritical PmP/P-g amplitudes which vary by a factor of 4 with the highest amplitudes in the northwest Mojave Desert. Preliminary experiments with stacking SmS arrivals indicate strongly correlated SmS and PmP amplitude variations. These results provide a guide to source-receiver paths that may produce anomalously strong Moho-reflected phases during future earthquakes.

1991
Aster, RC, Shearer PM.  1991.  High-Frequency Borehole Seismograms Recorded in the San-Jacinto Fault Zone, Southern California: 1. Polarizations. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 81:1057-1080. AbstractWebsite

Two borehole seismometer arrays (KNW-BH and PFO-BH) have been established in the Southern California Batholith region of the San Jacinto Fault zone by the U.S. Geological Survey. The sites are within 0.4 km of Anza network surface stations and have three-component seismometers deployed at 300 m depth, at 150 m depth, and at the surface. Downhole horizontal seismometers can be oriented to an accuracy of about 5-degrees using regional and near-regional initial P-wave particle motions. Shear waves recorded downhole at the KNW-BH indicate that the strong alignment of initial S-wave particle motions previously observed at the (surface) KNW Anza site (KNW-AZ) is not generated in the near-surface weathered layer. The KNW-BH surface instrument, which sits atop a highly weathered zone, displays a significantly different (almost-equal-to 20-degrees) initial S-wave polarization direction from that observed downhole and at KNW-AZ, which is bolted to an outcrop. Although downhole initial shear-wave particle motion directions are consistent with a shear-wave splitting hypothesis, observations of orthogonally polarized slow shear waves are generally elusive, even in seismograms recorded at 300 m. A cross-correlation measure of the apparent relative velocities of S(fast) and S(slow) horizontally polarized S waves suggests shallow shear-wave anisotropy, consistent with the observed initial S-wave particle motion direction, of 2.3 +/- 1.7 per cent between 300 and 150 m and 7.5 +/- 3.5 per cent between 150 and 0 m.