Large-scale tectonic deformation inferred from small earthquakes

Falk C Amelung, Geoffrey King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

It is a long-standing question whether the focal mechanisms of small earthquakes can be used to provide information about tectonic deformation on a regional scale. Here we address this question by using a 28-year record of seismicity in the San Francisco Bay area to compare the strain released by small earthquakes with geological, geodetic and plate-tectonic measurements of deformation in this region. We show that on a small spatial scale, the strain released by small earthquakes is closely related to specific geological features. But when averaged over a regional scale, strain release more closely follows the regional pattern of tectonic deformation: this relationship holds for all but the largest earthquakes, indicating that the earthquake strain is self-similar over a broad range of earthquake magnitudes. The lack of self-similarity observed for the largest earthquakes suggests that the time interval studied is not large enough to sample a complete set of events-the fault with the highest probability for hosting one such missing event is the Hayward fault.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-705
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume386
Issue number6626
StatePublished - Apr 17 1997
Externally publishedYes

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earthquake
tectonics
regional pattern
geological feature
earthquake magnitude
focal mechanism
plate tectonics
seismicity

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  • General

Cite this

Large-scale tectonic deformation inferred from small earthquakes. / Amelung, Falk C; King, Geoffrey.

In: Nature, Vol. 386, No. 6626, 17.04.1997, p. 702-705.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Amelung, FC & King, G 1997, 'Large-scale tectonic deformation inferred from small earthquakes', Nature, vol. 386, no. 6626, pp. 702-705.
Amelung, Falk C ; King, Geoffrey. / Large-scale tectonic deformation inferred from small earthquakes. In: Nature. 1997 ; Vol. 386, No. 6626. pp. 702-705.
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