Static Stress Drop in the 1994 Northridge, California, Aftershock Sequence

Jeanne L. Hardebeck, & Egill Hauksson

Published December 1997, SCEC Contribution #337

We use time-domain pulse widths to estimate static stress drops for 279 ML 2.5 to 4.0 aftershocks of the January 17, 1994, Mw 6.7 Northridge, California, earthquake. The stress drops obtained range from 0.02 to 40 bars, with a log average of 0.75 bar. Error bars computed for our estimates are typically a factor of 5, indicating that the 3 order of magnitude scatter in stress drops is not solely a result of measurement errors and that there is a significant amount of heterogeneity in the static stress drops of the aftershocks. Stress drops might be expected to increase with depth, since a fault can maintain a higher shear load at higher confining pressures. We observe an increase in log average stress drop at about 15 km depth, which is statistically significant at the 80% confidence level. The increase is due primarily to a lack of lower stress drop events below this depth, and may be controlled by material properties since the Northridge aftershocks are observed to intersect an anomalously high-velocity body at around this depth (Hauksson and Haase, 1997). An apparent increase in stress drop with magnitude is also observed over the entire magnitude range of the study, although whether this trend is real or an artifact of attenuation of high frequencies in the upper crust is unresolved.

Hardebeck, J. L., & Hauksson, E. (1997). Static Stress Drop in the 1994 Northridge, California, Aftershock Sequence. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 87(6), 1495-1501.