Crustal Velocity Field Near the Big Bend of California's San Andreas Fault

Richard Snay, Michael W. Cline, Randolph C. Phillipp, David D. Jackson, Yanjie Feng, Zheng-Kang Shen, & Michael Lisowski

Published February 10, 1996, SCEC Contribution #257

We use geodetic data spanning the 1920–1992 interval to estimate the horizontal velocity field near the big bend segment of California's San Andreas fault (SAF). More specifically, we estimate a horizontal velocity vector for each node of a two-dimensional grid that has a 15-min-by-15-min mesh and that extends between latitudes 34.0°N and 36.0°N and longitudes 117.5°W and 120.5°W. For this estimation process, we apply bilinear interpolation to transfer crustal deformation information from geodetic sites to the grid nodes. The data include over a half century of triangulation measurements, over two decades of repeated electronic distance measurements, a decade of repeated very long baseline interferometry measurements, and several years of Global Positioning System measurements. Magnitudes for our estimated velocity vectors have formal standard errors ranging from 0.7 to 6.8 mm/yr. Our derived velocity field shows that (1) relative motion associated with the SAF exceeds 30 mm/yr and is distributed on the Earth's surface across a band (>100 km wide) that is roughly centered on this fault; (2) when velocities are expressed relative to a fixed North America plate, the motion within our primary study region has a mean orientation of N44°W ± 2° and the surface trace of the SAF is congruent in shape to nearby contours of constant speed yet this trace is oriented between 5° and 10° counterclockwise relative to these contours; and (3) large strain rates (shear rates > 150 nrad/yr and/or areal dilatation rates < −150 nstr/yr) exist near the Garlock fault, near the White Wolf fault, and in the Ventura basin.

Snay, R., Cline, M. W., Phillipp, R. C., Jackson, D. D., Feng, Y., Shen, Z., & Lisowski, M. (1996). Crustal Velocity Field Near the Big Bend of California's San Andreas Fault. Journal of Geophysical Research, 101(B2), 3173-3185. doi: 10.1029/95JB02394.