Transient rheology of the uppermost mantle beneath the Mojave Desert, California

Fred F. Pollitz

Published October 2003, SCEC Contribution #10136

Geodetic data indicate that the M7.1 Hector Mine, California, earthquake was followed by a brief period (a few weeks) of rapid deformation preceding a prolonged phase of slower deformation. We find that the signal contained in continuous and campaign global positioning system data for 2.5 years after the earthquake may be explained with a transient rheology. Quantitative modeling of these data with allowance for transient (linear biviscous) rheology in the lower crust and upper mantle demonstrates that transient rheology in the upper mantle is dominant, its material properties being typified by two characteristic relaxation times ∼0.07 and ∼2 years. The inferred mantle rheology is a Jeffreys solid in which the transient and steady-state shear moduli are equal. Consideration of a simpler viscoelastic model with a linear univiscous rheology (2 fewer parameters than a biviscous model) shows that it consistently underpredicts the amplitude of the first ∼3 months signal, and allowance for a biviscous rheology is significant at the 99.0% confidence level. Another alternative model – deep postseismic afterslip beneath the coseismic rupture – predicts a vertical velocity pattern opposite to the observed pattern at all time periods considered. Despite its plausibility, the advocated biviscous rheology model is non-unique and should be regarded as a viable alternative to the non-linear mantle rheology model for governing postseismic flow beneath the Mojave Desert.

Pollitz, F. F. (2003). Transient rheology of the uppermost mantle beneath the Mojave Desert, California. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 215(1-2), 89-104. doi: 10.1016/S0012-821X(03)00432-1.