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Parkfield Earthquakes: Characteristic or Complementary?

Susana Custodio, & Ralph J. Archuleta

Published May 2007, SCEC Contribution #1008

We model the two most recent M w ∼6 Parkfield, California, earthquakes, which occurred in 1966 and 2004, from a nonlinear global inversion of near-fault strong motion seismograms. Our rupture models are characterized by spatially variable slip amplitude and rake, rupture velocity, and risetime. The rupture models indicate that the two earthquakes generated slip in regions of the fault that are not identical, as earlier suggested. Given the sparse seismic data set available for the 1966 earthquake, we conduct a series of tests to verify our results: (1) we perform synthetic tests in order to study the resolution of the 1966 seismic data set; (2) we perform an inversion of the 2004 earthquake using a data set equivalent to the 1966 earthquake; and (3) we model the 1966 data set under the a priori assumption that it was similar to the 2004 earthquake. All of the tests, as well as independent observations, indicate that slip during the 1966 and 2004 Parkfield earthquakes occurred in different regions of the fault. This result implies that regions of a fault that are frictionally locked may remain locked even during a main shock (moderate-size earthquake). In this scenario, large earthquakes occur when all the locked regions of a fault are “synchronized” and ready to slip at the same time.

Custodio, S., & Archuleta, R. J. (2007). Parkfield Earthquakes: Characteristic or Complementary?. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112(B05310). doi: 10.1029/2006JB004617.