Spatial and temporal stress drop variations in small earthquakes near Parkfield, California

Bettina P. Allmann, & Peter M. Shearer

Published April 2007, SCEC Contribution #978

We estimate source parameters from spectra of 42367 earthquakes between 1984 and 2005 that occurred in the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas Fault in central California. We use a method that isolates the source term of the displacement spectra based on a convolutional model and correct the observed P wave source spectra with a spatially varying empirical Green's function (EGF). Our Brune-type stress drop estimates vary from 0.1 to over 100 MPa with a median value of 6.75 MPa, which is nearly constant with moment, implying self-similarity over the M L = 0.5 to 3.0 range of our data. The corner frequency decreases for earthquakes at shallower depths, consistent with slower rupture velocities and reduced shear wave velocities in local velocity models. The estimated median stress drops show significant lateral variations: we find lower stress drops in the Middle Mountain asperity and along the creeping fault section, and higher stress drops in the hypocentral region of the 2004 M6.0 Parkfield earthquake. The main shock did not alter the overall pattern of high and low stress drop regions. However, a statistical test reveals areas with significant changes in computed stress drops after the main shock, which we compare to estimated absolute shear stress changes from a main shock slip model. By calculating Δt* from the spectral EGF ratio, we also identify areas with increased attenuation after the main shock, and we are able to distinguish source effects and near-source attenuation effects in the spectral analysis. These results are confirmed independently from spectral ratios of repeating microearthquake clusters.

Allmann, B. P., & Shearer, P. M. (2007). Spatial and temporal stress drop variations in small earthquakes near Parkfield, California. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112(B04305). doi: 10.1029/2006JB004395.