Comprehensive Analysis of Earthquake Source Spectra in Southern California

Peter M. Shearer, German A. Prieto, & Egill Hauksson

Published June 2006, SCEC Contribution #919

We compute and analyze P wave spectra from earthquakes in southern California between 1989 and 2001 using a method that isolates source-, receiver-, and path-dependent terms. We correct observed source spectra for attenuation using both fixed and spatially varying empirical Green's function methods. Estimated Brune-type stress drops for over 60,000 M L = 1.5 to 3.1 earthquakes range from 0.2 to 20 MPa with no dependence on moment or local b value. Median computed stress drop increases with depth in the upper crust, from about 0.6 MPa at the surface to about 2.2 MPa at 8 km, where it levels off and remains nearly constant in the midcrust down to about 20 km. However, the results at shallow depths could also be explained as reduced rupture velocities near the surface rather than a change in stress drop. Spatially coherent variations in median stress drop are observed, with generally low values for the Imperial Valley and Northridge aftershocks and higher values for the eastern Transverse ranges and the north end of the San Jacinto fault. We find no correlation between observed stress drop and distance from the San Andreas and other major faults. Significant along-strike variations in stress drop exist for aftershocks of the 1992 Landers earthquake, which may correlate with differences in main shock slip.

Shearer, P. M., Prieto, G. A., & Hauksson, E. (2006). Comprehensive Analysis of Earthquake Source Spectra in Southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research, 111(B06303). doi: 10.1029/2005JB003979.