Insights into Surface Manifestation of Aseismic vs. Coseismic Strike-Slip Faulting from UAV Imagery of Creep-Induced Surface Fracturing Along the Central San Andreas Fault
Thursday, 17 December 2015: 10:50
302 (Moscone South)
Left-stepping en echelon fractures formed at the Dry Lake Valley paleoseismic site (DLV, 36.470N, 121.057W) on the central creeping segment of the San Andreas Fault (SAF) during the 2012-14 drought. The fractures were investigated using high resolution DEMs and orthophotos made by applying Structure from Motion processing to photos taken using a UAV and handheld cameras on 9/20/2014. At DLV the SAF is marked by a distinctive 2-7 m high west-facing scarp that extends northwestward from a dilational step-over. The orthophotos and DEMs were used to measure 110 fractures along a 37 m section of scarp and 15 additional fracture sets along a further 79 m of scarp. The fractures averaged 54 cm long by 1.8 cm wide with 22% overlap, and were mode 1 opening fractures that on average trended 184o, nearly perpendicular to the maximum extension direction for right-lateral slip along the 144o – trending SAF. The fractures occurred in ~5 m long sets that were themselves left-stepping, on average trended 159o, and were confined to a 3-4 m wide zone along the fault scarp. We interpret the fracture sets to be incipient Riedel shears with a component of extension across them based on the orientation of the sets relative to the SAF, the obliquity of the individual fractures to the trend of the sets, and the presence of topographic lows along them. We conservatively estimate 2.5 ± 1 cm of right-lateral creep on the SAF was recorded in the opening of the fractures, which probably began forming at most 21 months before the photographic survey based on precipitation records and prior site inspection. From these results and the 2.5-3.2 cm/yr creep rate for the SAF, we infer that at least ~30%, and probably 50-80% or more of creep occurs along the narrow 5-50 m wide primary geomorphic expression of the fault, and that the same amount of creep can be accommodated by brittle fracturing in a narrow 3-4 m wide zone along the fault scarp during drought periods. In comparison to seismically – created structures, the extensional fractures were similar to some post-seismic creep features, such as those formed by the 2004 Parkfield earthquake. However, through-going master fault rupture and R-shears without extensional fractures, such as those formed in the 2010 Darfield Earthquake, contrast with the DLV fracture sets.