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Changes in Static Stress on Southern California Faults after the 1992 Landers Earthquake

Ruth A. Harris, & Robert W. Simpson

Published November 1992, SCEC Contribution #45

THE magnitude 7.5 Landers earthquake of 28 June 1992 was the largest earthquake to strike California in 40 years. The slip that occurs in such an earthquake would be expected to induce large changes in the static stress on neighbouring faults; these changes in stress should in turn affect the likelihood of future earthquakes. Stress changes that load faults towards failure have been cited as the cause of small1–5, moderate6 and large7 earthquakes; conversely, those that relax neighbouring faults have been related to a decrease in seismicity5. Here we use an elastic half-space model8 to estimate the stress changes produced by the Landers earthquake on selected southern California faults, including the San Andreas. We find that the estimated stress changes are consistent with the triggering of four out of the five aftershocks with magnitude greater than 4.5, and that the largest changes (1–10 bar), occurring on part of the San Bernardino segment of the San Andreas fault, may have decreased the time to the next magnitude 8 earthquake by about 14 years.

Harris, R. A., & Simpson, R. W. (1992). Changes in Static Stress on Southern California Faults after the 1992 Landers Earthquake. Nature, 360(6401), 251-254. doi: 10.1038/360251a0.