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Strong ground motions generated by earthquakes on creeping faults

Ruth A. Harris, & Norman A. Abrahamson

Published 2014, SCEC Contribution #2098

A tenet of earthquake science is that faults are locked in position until they abruptly slip during the sudden strain-relieving events that are earthquakes. Whereas it is expected that locked faults when they finally do slip will produce noticeable ground shaking, what is uncertain is how the ground shakes during earthquakes on creeping faults. Creeping faults are rare throughout much of the Earth’s continental crust, but there is a group of them in the San Andreas fault system. Here we evaluate the strongest ground motions from the largest well-recorded earthquakes on creeping faults. We find that the peak ground motions generated by the creeping fault earthquakes are similar to the peak ground motions generated by earthquakes on locked faults. Our findings imply that buildings near creeping faults need to be designed to withstand the same level of shaking as those constructed near locked faults.

Harris, R. A., & Abrahamson, N. A. (2014). Strong ground motions generated by earthquakes on creeping faults. Geophysical Research Letters, 41(11), 3870-3875. doi: 10.1002/2014GL060228.