Tomographic imaging of the tectonic tremor zone beneath the San Andreas fault in the Parkfield region

Dana E. Peterson, Clifford H. Thurber, David R. Shelly, Ninfa L. Bennington, Haijiang Zhang, & Justin R. Brown

Published December 2012, SCEC Contribution #1784

The fine-scale seismic velocity structure around zones of tectonic (nonvolcanic) tremor and low-frequency earthquakes (LFE's) has been imaged successfully in subduction zones. This success is due in part to the occurrence of earthquakes in the subducting slab beneath the zone of tremor and LFE's. Such studies have found the tremor and LFE's to lie within zones of reduced seismic velocity and high Vp/Vs, which have been interpreted to reflect high pore fluid pressure (e.g., Shelly et al., 2006). For the San Andreas fault, the observed tremor and LFE's in the Parkfield region occur at depths greater than 15 km, which is below the deepest conventional earthquakes in the region. This makes tomographic imaging of the tremor zone more challenging. We use a combination of P and S arrival times and corresponding differential times from stacked seismograms of LFE's (Shelly and Hardebeck, 2010) along with absolute and differential times from shallower microearthquakes to image the three-dimensional P- and S- wave velocity structure to ~20 km depth. Our initial results indicate the LFE's near SAFOD lie within or adjacent to zones with slightly reduced P-wave velocity and more sharply reduced S- wave velocity. The estimated Vp/Vs values are approximately 1.85 to 1.95 in these zones. The elevated Vp/Vs values are interpreted to reflect high pore fluid pressure and low effective stress. This is consistent with results from subduction zones and with observations of triggering and tidal modulation of LFE's and tremor on this deep extension of the SAF. We will present refined tomography results that expand the area imaged and include additional LFE arrival time picks from temporary array data. Cross-section from SW to NE through SAFOD at Y=0. Vs is shown by black contours (labeled with km/sec) and colors from red (slow) to blue (fast). Black diamonds are hypocenters of LFE's and earthquakes used in the inversion.

Peterson, D. E., Thurber, C. H., Shelly, D. R., Bennington, N. L., Zhang, H., & Brown, J. R. (2012, 12). Tomographic imaging of the tectonic tremor zone beneath the San Andreas fault in the Parkfield region. Oral Presentation at AGU Fall Meeting 2012.