Evidence from a Cluster of Small Earthquakes for a Fault at 18 km Depth Beneath Oak Ridge, Southern California

Peter M. Shearer

Published December 1998, SCEC Contribution #517

A swarm of about 50 small earthquakes (M ~ 1.5) occurred for a month during 1989 beneath Oak Ridge, southern California. Location accuracy using conventional analysis of arrival-time picks is limited for these events by the weak, emergent nature of arrivals on the available seismograms. However, waveform cross-correlation techniques are found to provide precise relative event locations due to the similarity of the waveforms recorded at individual stations. The relocated events form a small cluster about 1 km across at a depth of ~ 18 km and are aligned along a plane that dips 35° to the northwest. Estimated standard errors for the locations are generally less than 50 m. The time evolution of the sequence shows a gradual migration of activity away from its initiation point. Three additional events occurred several months later; these align along the same plane but are displaced about 500 m to the southeast from the main swarm. Reliable fault-plane solutions are difficult to obtain for these events due to the small number of station records available, the limited range of takeoff angles, and the weak initial arrivals on many of the seismograms. Stacking the records at each station over the different events greatly reduces prearrival noise levels and assists in resolving the average P first motions. Analysis of these first-motion data indicates that the slip planes of probable focal mechanisms are not in agreement with the plane defined by the seismicity. The seismicity alignment may represent the extension of the Simi fault, in which case some shallowing of the fault dip would be required to match the observed 35° dip at 18 km.

Key Words
United States, seismograms, P-waves, body waves, focal mechanism, Ventura County California, swarms, statistical analysis, magnitude, elastic waves, depth, cluster analysis, California, dip, Southern California, traveltime, seismic waves, Oak Ridge, earthquakes, S-waves, faults

Shearer, P. M. (1998). Evidence from a Cluster of Small Earthquakes for a Fault at 18 km Depth Beneath Oak Ridge, Southern California. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 88(6), 1327-1336.