Evidence of fluid-filled upper crust from observations of postseismic deformation due to the 1992 Mw7.3 Landers earthquake

Yuri Fialko

Published August 2004, SCEC Contribution #761

Postseismic deformation due to the 1992 M w 7.3 Landers, southern California, earthquake is investigated using the entire catalog of the ERS synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, and GPS measurements made between 1992 and 1999. The stacked interferometric SAR (InSAR) data spanning the time period of 7 years between the Landers and the Hector Mine earthquakes reveal a transient postseismic deformation with a characteristic decay time of several years. The horizontal displacements measured with GPS exhibit somewhat smaller decay times of 1–2 years. I use a slip model of the Landers earthquake that fits all available geodetic data [ Fialko, 2004 ] to calculate and compare permanent postseismic displacements due to viscoelastic and poroelastic relaxation. Viscoelastic models assuming weak mantle or lower crust do not agree with the InSAR data in the limit of complete relaxation, implying large (>10 years) relaxation times, essentially nonlinear rheology, or an appreciable yield strength of the lower lithosphere. A combination of poroelastic relaxation above the brittle-ductile transition and localized shear deformation on and below the Landers rupture is able to explain most of the available geodetic data. The InSAR data suggest that pore fluids and interconnected pore space are ubiquitously present throughout the seismogenic layer up to depth of 15 km or greater. The effective hydraulic diffusivity of the upper crust inferred from the kinetics of surface deformation is of the order of 0.1–1 m2/s, consistent with the laboratory, field, and deep borehole measurements. The post-Landers geodetic data suggest that discrete narrow fault zones extend into the lower crust and perhaps the uppermost mantle, thus lending support to a “block tectonics” model of the Eastern California Shear Zone.

Key Words
upper crust, Global Positioning System, stress, radar methods, block structures, geodesy, deformation, satellite methods, viscoelasticity, Landers earthquake 1992, rupture, SAR, ERS, tectonics, InSAR, fluids rheology afterslip, earthquakes, crust, remote sensing, Hector Mine earthquake 1999

Fialko, Y. (2004). Evidence of fluid-filled upper crust from observations of postseismic deformation due to the 1992 Mw7.3 Landers earthquake. Journal of Geophysical Research, 109(B08401). doi: 10.1029/2003JB002985.