An integral method to estimate the moment accumulation rate on the Creeping Section of the San Andreas Fault

Xiaopeng Tong, David T. Sandwell, & Bridget R. Smith-Konter

Published July 31, 2015, SCEC Contribution #6197

Moment accumulation rate (also referred to as moment deficit rate) is a fundamental quantity for evaluating seismic hazard. The conventional approach for evaluating moment accumulation rate of creeping faults is to invert for the slip distribution from geodetic measurements, although even with perfect data these slip-rate inversions are non-unique. In this study, we show that the slip-rate versus depth inversion is not needed because moment accumulation rate can be estimated directly from surface geodetic data. We propose an integral approach that uses dense geodetic observations from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) to constrain the moment accumulation rate. The moment accumulation rate is related to the integral of the product of the along-strike velocity and the distance from the fault. We demonstrate our methods by studying the Creeping Section of the San Andreas fault observed by GPS and radar interferometry onboard the ERS and ALOS satellites. Along-strike variation of the moment accumulation rate is derived in order to investigate the degree of partial locking of the Creeping Section. The central Creeping Segment has a moment accumulation rate of 0.25–3.1 × 1015 Nm yr−1 km−1. The upper and lower bounds of the moment accumulation rates are derived based on the statistics of the noise. Our best-fitting model indicates that the central portion of the Creeping Section is accumulating seismic moment at rates that are about 5 per cent to 23 per cent of the fully locked Carrizo segment that will eventually be released seismically. A cumulative moment budget calculation with the historical earthquake catalogue (M > 5.5) since 1857 shows that the net moment deficit at present is equivalent to a Mw 6.3 earthquake.

Tong, X., Sandwell, D. T., & Smith-Konter, B. R. (2015). An integral method to estimate the moment accumulation rate on the Creeping Section of the San Andreas Fault. Geophysical Journal International, 203(1), 48-62. doi: 10.1093/gji/ggv269.