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Evolving Geometrical Heterogeneities of Fault Trace Data

Neta Wechsler, Yehuda Ben-Zion, & Shari Christofferson

Published 2010, SCEC Contribution #1382

We perform a systematic comparative analysis of geometrical fault zone heterogeneities using derived measures from digitized fault maps that are not very sensitive to mapping resolution. We employ the digital GIS map of California faults (version 2.0) and analyse the surface traces of active strike-slip fault zones with evidence of Quaternary and historic movements. Each fault zone is broken into segments that are defined as a continuous length of fault bounded by changes of angle larger than 1◦. Measurements of the orientations and lengths of fault zone segments are used to calculate the mean direction and misalignment of each fault zone from the local plate motion direction, and to define several quantities that represent the fault zone disorder. These include circular standard deviation and circular standard error of segments, orientation of long and short segments with respect to the mean direction, and normal separation distances of fault segments.We examine the correlations between various calculated parameters of fault zone disorder and the following three potential controlling variables: cumulative slip, slip rate and fault zone misalignment from the plate motion direction. The analysis indicates that the circular standard deviation and circular standard error of segments decrease overall with increasing cumulative slip and increasing slip rate of the fault zones. The results imply that the circular standard deviation and error, quantifying the range or dispersion in the data, provide effective measures of the fault zone disorder, and that the cumulative slip and slip rate (or more generally slip rate normalized by healing rate) represent the fault zone maturity. The fault zone misalignment from plate motion direction does not seem to play a major role in controlling the fault trace heterogeneities. The frequency-size statistics of fault segment lengths can be fitted well by an exponential function over the entire range of observations.

Key Words
United States, digital data, slip rates, strike-slip faults, geometry, California, fractures, geographic information systems, seismicity, information systems, tectonics, algorithms, heterogeneity, earthquakes, seismotectonics, faults, remote sensing

Wechsler, N., Ben-Zion, Y., & Christofferson, S. (2010). Evolving Geometrical Heterogeneities of Fault Trace Data. Geophysical Journal International, 182, 551-567. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04645.x.