Evidence for water-filled cracks in earthquake source regions

Guoqing Lin, & Peter M. Shearer

Published 2009, SCEC Contribution #1361

We identify lowered Vp/Vs ratios near earthquake source regions in southern California using observations from a seismic tomography model and high-resolution local Vp/Vs estimates using waveform cross-correlation data from within similar event clusters. The median tomographic Vp/Vs ratio is 1.716 ± 0.008 at all the relocated crustal earthquake locations, compared to the background median value of 1.729 ± 0.007 for the tomography model, although the error estimates overlap slightly. The median in situ Vp/ Vs ratio of 1.673 ± 0.022 within the similar event clusters suggests that tomographic studies are overestimating Vp/Vs at source regions. Interpretation of Vp/Vs anomalies is complicated by the scatter in values obtained for individual clusters and in comparisons to absolute Vp and Vs velocities in the tomography model. However, the low Vp/Vs ratios measured for the seismicity clusters are hard to explain with known rocks and suggest the presence of water-filled cracks with several percent porosity in earthquake source regions in southern California, which likely has an effect on faulting and earthquake activity.

Key Words
tomography, United States, P-waves, continental crust, elastic waves, waveforms, cluster analysis, observations, California, seismicity, crosscorrelation, velocity, faults, water, body waves, focal mechanism, statistical analysis, porosity, cracks, Southern California, saturation, seismic waves, earthquakes, crust, S-waves

Lin, G., & Shearer, P. M. (2009). Evidence for water-filled cracks in earthquake source regions. Geophysical Research Letters, 36. doi: 10.1029/2009GL039098.