Earthquake triggering by seismic waves following the Landers and Hector Mine earthquakes

Joan S. Gomberg, Paul Reasenberg, Paul Bodin, & Ruth A. Harris

Published May 2001, SCEC Contribution #835

The proximity and similarity of the 1992, magnitude 7.3 Landers and 1999, magnitude 7.1 Hector Mine earthquakes in California permit testing of earthquake triggering hypotheses not previously possible. The Hector Mine earthquake confirmed inferences that transient, oscillatory 'dynamic' deformations radiated as seismic waves can trigger seismicity rate increases, as proposed for the Landers earthquake. Here we quantify the spatial and temporal patterns of the seismicity rate changes. The seismicity rate increase was to the north for the Landers earthquake and primarily to the south for the Hector Mine earthquake. We suggest that rupture directivity results in elevated dynamic deformations north and south of the Landers and Hector Mine faults, respectively, as evident in the asymmetry of the recorded seismic velocity fields. Both dynamic and static stress changes seem important for triggering in the near field with dynamic stress changes dominating at greater distances. Peak seismic velocities recorded for each earthquake suggest the existence of, and place bounds on, dynamic triggering thresholds. These thresholds vary from a few tenths to a few MPa in most places, depend on local conditions, and exceed inferred static thresholds by more than an order of magnitude. At some sites, the onset of triggering was delayed until after the dynamic deformations subsided. Physical mechanisms consistent with all these observations may be similar to those that give rise to liquefaction or cyclic fatigue.

Gomberg, J. S., Reasenberg, P., Bodin, P., & Harris, R. A. (2001). Earthquake triggering by seismic waves following the Landers and Hector Mine earthquakes. Nature, 411 , 462-466. doi: 10.1038/35078053.