The 1999 Mw7.1 Hector Mine, California Earthquake Sequence: Complex Conjugate Strike-Slip Faulting

Egill Hauksson, Lucile M. Jones, & Kate Hutton

Published May 2002, SCEC Contribution #553

The 1999 Mw 7.1 Hector Mine mainshock showed right-lateral strike-slip faulting, with an initial strike of N6°W and vertical dip. The mainshock was preceded within 20 hours by 18 recorded foreshocks of 1.5 ≤ M ≤ 3.8 within a few kilometers distance of the mainshock hypocenter. The aftershocks delineate how the Hector Mine earthquake ruptured with strike N6°W to the south for a distance of 15 km, and possibly to the north for a distance of several km. The two largest aftershocks of M 5.9 and M 5.7 occurred near the north and south end of the first mainshock rupture segment. The second segment of rupture, starting 15 km to the south away from the mainshock hypocenter, delineated by strike-slip and thrust faulting aftershocks, extends 10 km further away with a strike of S140°E along the Bullion fault. The aftershocks also outline an unusual third rupture segment, extending from about 5 km south of the hypocenter with a strike of N30°W to 35°W for a distance of 20 km. Approximately 10 to 25 km further to the north and west of the mainshock epicenter, several clusters form a complex aftershock distribution. Three-dimensional Vp and Vp/Vs models of the region exhibit only small regional changes, as is typical for the Mojave region. Nonetheless, the mainshock rupture started within a region of rapidly varying Vp and at least three regions of low Vp/Vs are imaged within the aftershock zone. The rate of decay for Hector Mine has been slightly above the mean for both p-values and b-values in southern California. The focal mechanisms of the aftershocks and the state of stress are consistent with strike-slip faulting, including a component of normal faulting most prominent to the north. The orientation of the regional maximum horizontal stress, the variation in orientation of the mainshock fault segments by 30°, and scattered distribution of aftershocks suggest that the mainshock and aftershock deformation field exhibit volumetric shear deformation accommodated by complex conjugate sets of strike-slip faults.

Hauksson, E., Jones, L. M., & Hutton, K. (2002). The 1999 Mw7.1 Hector Mine, California Earthquake Sequence: Complex Conjugate Strike-Slip Faulting. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 92(4), 1154-1170. doi: 10.1785/0120000920.