Depth-Dependent Earthquake Properties Beneath Long-Beach, CA: Implications for the Rheology at the Brittle-Ductile Transition Zone

Tuesday, 15 December 2015: 12:05
302 (Moscone South)
Asaf Inbal1, Robert W Clayton1 and Jean Paul Ampuero2, (1)California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States, (2)California Institute of Technology, Seismological Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, United States
Except for a few localities, seismicity along faults in southern California is generally confined to depths shallower than 15 km. Among faults hosting deep seismicity, the Newport-Inglewood Fault (NIF), which traverses the Los-Angeles basin, has an exceptionally mild surface expression and low deformation rates. Moreover, the NIF structure is not as well resolved as other, less well instrumented faults because of poor signal-to-noise ratio. Here we use data from three temporary dense seismic arrays, which were deployed for exploration purposes and contain up to several thousands of vertical geophones, to investigate the properties of deep seismicity beneath Long-Beach (LB), Compton and Santa-Fe Springs (SFS). The latter is located 15 km northeast of the NIF, presumably above a major detachment fault underthrusting the basin.

Event detection is carried out using a new approach for microseismic multi-channel picking, in which downward-continued data are back-projected onto the volume beneath the arrays, and locations are derived from statistical analysis of back-projection images. Our technique reveals numerous, previously undetected events along the NIF, and confirms the presence of an active shallow structure gently dipping to the north beneath SFS. Seismicity characteristics vary along the NIF strike and dip. While LB seismicity is uncorrelated with the mapped trace of the NIF, Compton seismicity illuminates a sub-vertical fault that extends down to about 20 km. This result, along with the reported high flux of mantle Helium along the NIF (Boles et al., 2015), suggests that the NIF is deeply rooted and acts as a major conduit for mantle fluids. We find that the LB size distribution obeys the typical power-law at shallow depths, but falls off exponentially for events occurring below 20 km. Because deep seismicity occurs uniformly beneath LB, this transition is attributed to a reduction in seismic asperity density with increasing depth, consistent with a transition to a diffuse deformation regime.