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Viscoelastic earthquake cycle models with deep stress-driven creep along the San Andreas fault system

Kaj M. Johnson, & Paul Segall

Published October 2004, SCEC Contribution #775

We develop a two-dimensional boundary element earthquake cycle model including deep interseismic creep on vertical strike-slip faults in an elastic lithosphere coupled to a viscoelastic asthenosphere. Uniform slip on the upper part of the fault is prescribed periodically to represent great strike-slip earthquakes. Below the coseismic rupture the fault creeps in response to lithospheric shear stresses within a narrow linear viscous fault zone. The model is applied to the GPS contemporary velocity field across the Carrizo Plain and northern San Francisco Bay segments of the San Andreas fault, as well as triangulation measurements of postseismic strain following the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Previous analysis of these data, using conventional viscoelastic coupling models without stress-driven creep [ Segall, 2002 ], shows that it is necessary to invoke different lithosphere-asthenosphere rheology in northern and southern California in order to explain the data. We show that with deep stress-driven interseismic creep on the San Andreas fault, the data can be explained with the same rheology for northern and southern California. We estimate elastic thickness in the range 44–100 km (95% confidence level), fault zone viscosity per unit width of 0.5–8.2 × 1017 Pa s/m, and asthenosphere relaxation time of 24–622 years (0.1–2.9 × 1020 Pa s) for northern and southern California. We estimate a slip rate of 21–27 mm/yr and recurrence time of 188–315 years for the northern San Francisco Bay San Andreas fault and slip rate of 32–42 mm/yr with recurrence time of 247–536 years for the Carrizo Plain.

Johnson, K. M., & Segall, P. (2004). Viscoelastic earthquake cycle models with deep stress-driven creep along the San Andreas fault system. Journal of Geophysical Research, 109(B10403). doi: 10.1029/2004JB003096.