Coseismic Slip Variation and the Intimate Link with Fault Structure
Thursday, 17 December 2015: 11:20
302 (Moscone South)
Co-seismic along-strike slip heterogeneity is widely observed for many surface-rupturing earthquakes as revealed by field and high-resolution geodetic methods. However, this co-seismic slip variability is currently a poorly understood phenomenon. Key unanswered questions include: What are the characteristics and underlying causes of along-strike slip variability? Do the properties of slip variability change from fault-to-fault, along-strike or at different scales? We cross-correlate optical, pre- and post-event air photos using the program COSI-Corr to measure the near-field, surface deformation pattern of the 1992 Mw = 7.3 Landers and 1999 Mw = 7.1 Hector Mine earthquakes in high-resolution. We produce the co-seismic slip profiles of both events from over 1,500 displacement measurements and observe consistent along-strike slip variability. Although the observed slip heterogeneity seems apparently complex and disordered, a spectral analysis reveals that the slip distributions are self-affine fractal and variations of slip are not random. We find a fractal dimension of 1.68 + 0.25 and 1.58 + 0.30 for the Landers and Hector Mine earthquakes, respectively, indicating the slip distribution is rougher for the former. We show deterministically that the wavelength and amplitude of slip fluctuations of both earthquakes can be directly correlated to points of geometrical fault complexities (such as stepovers, kinks or bends) of similar size. We find the correlation of the wavelength of slip fluctuations to the size of geometrical fault complexities at all observable length scales, can explain why the complex surface rupture of the Landers earthquake has a rougher slip distribution than the geometrically simpler surface rupture of the Hector Mine event. Our results address longstanding questions concerning co-seismic slip variability, resulting in a more complete understanding of the relationship between slip distributions and fault structure.