Geodetic constraints on frictional properties and earthquake hazard in the Imperial Valley, southern California

Eric O. Lindsey, & Yuri Fialko

Published 2016, SCEC Contribution #6162

We analyze a suite of geodetic observations across the Imperial fault in southern California that span all parts of the earthquake cycle. Coseismic and postseismic surface slip due to the 1979 M6.6 Imperial Valley earthquake were recorded with trilateration and alignment surveys by Harsh [1982] and Crook et al. [1982], and interseismic deformation is measured using a combination of multiple InSAR viewing geometries and continuous and survey-mode GPS. In particular we combine more than 100 survey-mode GPS velocities with InSAR data from Envisat descending tracks 84 and 356 and ascending tracks 77 and 306 (149 total acquisitions), processed using a persistent scatterers method Hooper et al. [2004]. The result is a dense map of interseismic velocities across the Imperial fault and surrounding areas that allows us to evaluate the rate of interseismic loading and along-strike variations in surface creep. We compare available geodetic data to models of the earthquake cycle with rate- and state-dependent friction and find that a complete record of the earthquake cycle is required to constrain key fault properties including the rate dependence parameter (a-b) as a function of depth, the extent of shallow creep, and the recurrence interval of large events. We find that the data are inconsistent with a high (>30 mm/yr) slip rate on the Imperial fault, and investigate the possibility that an extension of the San Jacinto - Superstition Hills fault system through the town of El Centro may accommodate a significant portion of the slip previously attributed to the Imperial fault. Models including this additional fault are in better agreement with the available observations, suggesting that the long-term slip rate of the Imperial fault is lower than previously suggested, and that there may be a significant unmapped hazard in the western Imperial Valley.

Lindsey, E. O., & Fialko, Y. (2016). Geodetic constraints on frictional properties and earthquake hazard in the Imperial Valley, southern California. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 121(2), 1097-1113. doi: 10.1002/2015JB012516.