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Shear Wave Splitting Observations and Implications on Stress Regimes in the Los Angeles Basin, California

Yong-Gang Li

Published June 10, 1996, SCEC Contribution #285

A systematic analysis of three-component seismograms recorded at 15 stations from earthquakes occurring at depths of 5 to 18 km beneath the Los Angeles basin and adjacent areas during the period between 1988 and 1994 shows 20 to 160 ms shear wave splitting. Shallow events exhibit little splitting, while deeper events show progressively greater splitting with depth. The preferred polarization direction of the fast shear wave is nearly N-S, consistent with the direction of the regional maximum horizontal compressive stress but independent of the azimuth between the event and station. We interpret that the shear wave splitting is caused by fluid-filled crustal microcracks and macrofractures aligned in the N-S direction. The shear wave splitting observations of 2.8 to 7.8 ms/km can be explained in terms of an anisotropic crust containing vertical cracks with the apparent crack density of 0.023–0.08. On a regional basis, the crack density may vary from station to station, but we find that the apparent crack density in the strike-slip region of the Newport-Inglewood fault and the Whittier fault is higher than in the reverse-thrusting Santa Monica Mountains and Palos Verdes Hills. No systematic change of shear wave splitting in the Los Angeles basin is found in this study.

Li, Y. (1996). Shear Wave Splitting Observations and Implications on Stress Regimes in the Los Angeles Basin, California. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101(B6), 13947-13961. doi: 10.1029/96JB00878.