Earthquake Stress Drop in Rupture Patches and Rupture Barriers on Gofar Transform Fault, East Pacific Rise

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Pamela A Moyer1, Margaret S Boettcher1, Jeffrey Joseph McGuire2 and John A Collins3, (1)University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States, (2)Woods Hole Oceanographic Ins, Geology and Geophysics, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (3)WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States
The largest earthquakes on mid-ocean ridge transform faults (RTFs) exhibit the most systematic behaviors known in seismology. On the fast slipping Gofar transform fault on the East Pacific Rise (EPR), Mw ~6.0 earthquakes occur every ~5 years and repeatedly rupture the same asperities (fault patches), suggesting that the intervening fault segments (rupture barriers) stop the propagation of the largest earthquakes. In 2008, an ocean bottom seismometer (OBS) deployment captured the end of a seismic cycle on Gofar transform fault [McGuire et al., 2012]. We determine stress drop for earthquakes recorded during this experiment to investigate how the source properties of moderate sized earthquakes (3.0 < Mw < 5.5) differ between the rupture patch and rupture barrier fault segments. The OBS experiment on Gofar transform fault recorded an extensive foreshock sequence localized within a 10 km rupture barrier, the Mw 6.0 mainshock and its aftershocks that occurred in a ~10 km rupture patch, and an earthquake swarm that was located in a second rupture barrier adjacent to the ridge-transform intersection. Using waveforms recorded with a sample rate of 50 Hz on the OBS accelerometers, we calculate stress drop using the Madariaga [1976] circular crack model, with the corner frequency derived from an empirical Green’s function (EGF) method, and seismic moment obtained by fitting an omega-squared source model to the low frequency amplitude of individual event spectra. Results for ~300 earthquakes in the foreshock, aftershock, and swarm zones have a range of stress drops from 0.2 to 50 MPa. Values for the best constrained 10% of earthquakes show a weighted average stress drop in the aftershock zone that is more than twice the weighted average stress drop in the foreshock zone (3.5 MPa and 1.1 MPa, respectively). These variations in earthquake stress drop reflect systematic differences in along strike fault zone properties between rupture patches and rupture barriers on Gofar transform fault.