Synthetic velocity gradient map of the San Francisco Bay region, California, supports use of average block velocities to estimate fault slip rate where effective locking depth is small relative to inter-fault distance

Monday, 15 December 2014
Russell Walter Graymer, US Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA, United States and Robert W Simpson, USGS, Menlo Park, CA, United States
Graymer and Simpson (2013, AGU Fall Meeting) showed that in a simple 2D multi-fault system (vertical, parallel, strike-slip faults bounding blocks without strong material property contrasts) slip rate on block-bounding faults can be reasonably estimated by the difference between the mean velocity of adjacent blocks if the ratio of the effective locking depth to the distance between the faults is 1/3 or less ("effective" locking depth is a synthetic parameter taking into account actual locking depth, fault creep, and material properties of the fault zone). To check the validity of that observation for a more complex 3D fault system and a realistic distribution of observation stations, we developed a synthetic suite of GPS velocities from a dislocation model, with station location and fault parameters based on the San Francisco Bay region. Initial results show that if the effective locking depth is set at the base of the seismogenic zone (about 12-15 km), about 1/2 the interfault distance, the resulting synthetic velocity observations, when clustered, do a poor job of returning the input fault slip rates. However, if the apparent locking depth is set at 1/2 the distance to the base of the seismogenic zone, or about 1/4 the interfault distance, the synthetic velocity field does a good job of returning the input slip rates except where the fault is in a strong restraining orientation relative to block motion or where block velocity is not well defined (for example west of the northern San Andreas Fault where there are no observations to the west in the ocean). The question remains as to where in the real world a low effective locking depth could usefully model fault behavior. Further tests are planned to define the conditions where average cluster-defined block velocities can be used to reliably estimate slip rates on block-bounding faults. These rates are an important ingredient in earthquake hazard estimation, and another tool to provide them should be useful.