Publications

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2016
Jiang, JL, Fialko Y.  2016.  Reconciling seismicity and geodetic locking depths on the Anza section of the San Jacinto fault. Geophysical Research Letters. 43:10663-10671.   10.1002/2016gl071113   AbstractWebsite

Observations from the Anza section of the San Jacinto Fault in Southern California reveal that microseismicity extends to depths of 15-18km, while the geodetically determined locking depth is less than similar to 10km. This contrasts with observations from other major faults in the region and also with predictions of fault models assuming a simple layered distribution of frictional properties with depth. We suggest that an anomalously shallow geodetic fault locking may result from a transition zone at the bottom of seismogenic layer with spatially heterogeneous frictional properties. Numerical models of faults that incorporate stochastic heterogeneity at transitional depths successfully reproduce the observed depth relation between seismicity and geodetic locking, as well as complex spatiotemporal patterns of microseismicity with relatively scarce repeating earthquakes. Our models predict propagation of large earthquakes to the bottom of the transition zone, and ubiquitous aseismic transients below the locked zone, potentially observable using high-precision geodetic techniques.

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.

2011
Wei, M, Sandwell D, Fialko Y, Bilham R.  2011.  Slip on faults in the Imperial Valley triggered by the 4 April 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake revealed by InSAR. Geophysical Research Letters. 38   10.1029/2010gl045235   AbstractWebsite

Radar interferometry (InSAR), field measurements and creepmeters reveal surface slip on multiple faults in the Imperial Valley triggered by the main shock of the 4 April 2010 El Mayor-Cucapah M(w) 7.2 earthquake. Co-seismic offsets occurred on the San Andreas, Superstition Hills, Imperial, Elmore Ranch, Wienert, Coyote Creek, Elsinore, Yuha, and several minor faults near the town of Ocotillo at the northern end of the mainshock rupture. We documented right-lateral slip (<40 mm) on northwest-striking faults and left-lateral slip (<40 mm) on southwest-striking faults. Slip occurred on 15-km- and 20-km-long segments of the San Andreas Fault in the Mecca Hills (<= 50 mm) and Durmid Hill (<= 10 mm) respectively, and on 25 km of the Superstition Hills Fault (<= 37 mm). Field measurements of slip on the Superstition Hills Fault agree with InSAR and creepmeter measurements to within a few millimeters. Dislocation models of the InSAR data from the Superstition Hills Fault confirm that creep in this sequence, as in previous slip events, is confined to shallow depths (<3 km). Citation: Wei, M., D. Sandwell, Y. Fialko, and R. Bilham (2011), Slip on faults in the Imperial Valley triggered by the 4 April 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake revealed by InSAR, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L01308, doi:10.1029/2010GL045235.

2005
Fialko, Y, Rivera L, Kanamori H.  2005.  Estimate of differential stress in the upper crust from variations in topography and strike along the San Andreas fault. Geophysical Journal International. 160:527-532.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2004.02511.x   AbstractWebsite

The major bends of the San Andreas fault in California are associated with significant variations in the along-fault topography. The topography-induced perturbations in the intermediate principal stress may result in the rotation of the fault with respect to the maximum compression axis provided that the fault is non-vertical, and the slip is horizontal. The progressive fault rotation may produce additional topography via thrust faulting in the adjacent crust, resulting in a positive feedback. The observed rotation of the fault plane due to the along-fault variations in topography is used to infer the magnitude of the in situ differential stress. Our results suggest that the average differential stress in the upper crust around the San Andreas fault is of the order of 50 MPa, implying that the effective fault strength is about a factor of two lower than predictions based on Byerlee's law and the assumption of hydrostatic pore pressure.