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Earthquake Report: Explorer plate

Last night I had completed preparing for class the next day. I was about to head to bed. I got an email from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center notifying me that there was no risk of a tsunami due to an earthquake with a magnitude M 6.6. I noticed it was along the Sovanco fault, a transform fault (right-lateral strike-slip). Strike slip faults can produce tsunami, but they are smaller than tsunami generated along subduction zones. The recent M = 7.5 Donggala Earthquake in Sulawesi, Indonesia is an example of a tsunami generated in response to a strike-slip earthquake (tho coseismic landslides may be part of the story there too).

I thought I could put together a map in short time as I already had a knowledge base for this area (e.g. earthquake reports from 2017.01.07 and 2016.03.18). However, as I was creating base maps in Google Earth, before I completed making a set (the posters below each take 4 different basemaps displayed at different transparencies), there was the M 6.8 earthquake. Then there was the M 6.6 earthquake. I had to start all over. Twice. Heheh.

This region of the Pacific-North America plate boundary is at the northern end of the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ). To the east, the Explorer and Juan de Fuca plates subduct beneath the North America plate to form the megathrust subduction zone fault capable of producing earthquakes in the magnitude M = 9 range. The last CSZ earthquake was in January of 1700, just almost 319 years ago.

The Juan de Fuca plate is created at an oceanic spreading center called the Juan de Fuca Ridge. This spreading ridge is offset by several transform (strike-slip) faults. At the southern terminus of the JDF Ridge is the Blanco fault, a transtensional transform fault connecting the JDF and Gorda ridges.

At the northern terminus of the JDF Ridge is the Sovanco transform fault that strikes to the northwest of the JDF Ridge. There are additional fracture zones parallel and south of the Sovanco fault, called the Heck, Heckle, and Springfield fracture zones.

The first earthquake (M = 6.6) appears to have slipped along the Sovanco fault as a right-lateral strike-slip earthquake. Then the M 6.8 earthquake happened and, given the uncertainty of the location for this event, occurred on a fault sub-parallel to the Sovanco fault. Then the M 6.5 earthquake hit, back on the Sovanco fault.

So, I would consider the M 6.6 to be a mainshock that triggered the M 6.8. The M 6.5 is an aftershock of the M 6.6.

Based upon our knowledge of how individual earthquakes can change the stress (or strain) in the surrounding earth, it is unlikely that this earthquake sequence changed the stress on the megathrust. Over time, hundreds of these earthquakes do affect the potential for earthquakes on the CSZ megathrust. But, individual earthquakes (or even a combination of these 3 earthquakes) do not change the chance that there will be an earthquake on the CSZ megathrust. The chance of an earthquake tomorrow is about the same as the chance of an earthquake today. Day to day the chances don’t change much. However, year to year, the chances of an earthquake get higher and higher. But of course, we cannot predict when an earthquake will happen.

So, if we live, work, or play in earthquake country, it is best to always be prepared for an earthquake, for tsunami, and for landslides.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake


I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I include earthquake epicenters from 1918-2018 with magnitudes M ≥ 6.5 in one version.

I plot the USGS fault plane solutions (moment tensors in blue and focal mechanisms in orange), possibly in addition to some relevant historic earthquakes.

I include the earthquake mechanisms for 2 special earthquakes that happened in the past two decades along this plate boundary system. In 2001 the M 6.8 Nisqually earthquake struck the Puget Sound region of Washington causing extensive damage. This earthquake was an extensional earthquake in the downgoing JDF plate. The damage was extensive because the earthquake was close to an urban center, where there was lots of infrastructure to be damaged (the closer to an earthquake, the higher the shaking intensity).

In 2012 was a M = 7.8 earthquake along the northern extension of the CSZ. The northern part of the CSZ is a very interesting region, often called the Queen Charlotte triple junction. There are some differences than the Mendocino triple junction to the south, in northern California. There continues to be some debate about how the plate boundary faults are configured here. The Queen Charlotte is a right lateral strike slip fault that extends from south of Haida Gwaii (the large island northwest of Vancouver Island) up northwards, where it is called the Fairweather fault. There are several large strike-slip earthquakes on the Queen Charlotte/Fairweather fault system in the 20th century. However, the 2012 earthquake was a subduction zone fault, evidence that the CSZ megathrust (or some semblance of this subduction zone) extends beneath Haida Gwaii (so the CSZ and QCF appear to over lap).

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab 2.0 contours plotted (Hayes, 2018), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.li>

    Magnetic Anomalies

  • In the map below, I include a transparent overlay of the magnetic anomaly data from EMAG2 (Meyer et al., 2017). As oceanic crust is formed, it inherits the magnetic field at the time. At different points through time, the magnetic polarity (north vs. south) flips, the north pole becomes the south pole. These changes in polarity can be seen when measuring the magnetic field above oceanic plates. This is one of the fundamental evidences for plate spreading at oceanic spreading ridges (like the Gorda rise).
  • Regions with magnetic fields aligned like today’s magnetic polarity are colored red in the EMAG2 data, while reversed polarity regions are colored blue. Regions of intermediate magnetic field are colored light purple.
  • We can see the roughly northeast-southwest trends of these red and blue stripes in the JDF and Pacific plates. These lines are parallel to the ocean spreading ridges from where they were formed. The stripes disappear at the subduction zone because the oceanic crust with these anomalies is diving deep beneath the Sunda plate (part of Eurasia), so the magnetic anomalies from the overlying North America plate (and accretionary prism) mask the evidence for the JDF plate.

    I include some inset figures. Some of the same figures are located in different places on the larger scale map below.

  • In the upper right corner is a map of the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) and regional tectonic plate boundary faults. This is modified from several sources (Chaytor et al., 2004; Nelson et al., 2004). I place a blue star in the general location of today’s seismicity.
  • In the upper left corner is a map showing the plate boundary faults associated with the northern CSZ and to the north (including the Queen Charlotte fault; Braunmiller and Nabalek, 2002). I place a red star in the general location of today’s seismicity. These earthquakes occurred in the region east of the Explorer rift. This region of the world still contains some major tectonic mysteries and this is quite exciting. This shows the Winona Block as a microplate between the Pacific and North America plates, north of the Explorer plate. The Winona Block is labeled “WIN BLOCK” on the map. Note that there are two spreading ridges on the western and central part of this block. It is possible that the Explorer ridge-rift system extends into the Winona Block to form a third spreading ridge in the Winona Block.
  • In the lower left corner is a map from Dziak (2006). Dziak (2006) used bathymetric and seismologic data to evaluate the faulting in the region and discussed how the Explorer plate is accommodating a reorganization of the plate boundary.
  • Here is the map with a month’s seismicity plotted.


  • Here is the map with a century’s seismicity plotted.


  • Here is a video showing the earthquake epicenters for the period of 1900-2017 for USGS earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 5.0. Here is a link to the embedded video below (2.5 MB mp4). Note how the earthquakes that happen between the northern terminus of the JDF Ridge and the southern terminus of the Queen Charlotte fault form a wide band (not a stepwise patter that might reflect steps in ridges and spreading centers). This pattern is key to unravelling the mysteries of the western Explorer plate.
    • Here is the map with the seismicity from 1900-2017 plotted. These are USGS earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 7.0 for this time period. I include the moment tensors from the 2012 and 2013 earthquakes (the only earthquakes for this time period that have USGS moment tensors). The 2012 earthquake generated a tsunami. I discuss the 2012 “Haida Gwaii” earthquake here.


Other Report Pages

Some Relevant Discussion and Figures

  • Here is the general tectonic map of the region (Braunmiller and Nabalek, 2002). Today’s earthquakes happened in a place that suggest the Explorer ridge extends further to the north into the Winona Block. Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • Map of Explorer region and surroundings. Plate boundaries are based on Riddihough’s [1984] and Davis and Riddihough’s [1982] tectonic models. Solid lines are active plate boundaries (single lines are transform faults, double lines are spreading centers, barbed lines are subduction zones with barbs in downgoing plate direction). The wide double line outlines the width of the Sovanco fracture zone, and the dots sketch the Explorer-Winona boundary. Plate motion vectors (solid arrows) are from NUVEL-1A [DeMets et al., 1994] for Pacific-North America motion and from Wilson [1993] for Pacific-Juan de Fuca and Juan de Fuca-North America motion. Open arrows are Explorer relative plate motions averaged over last 1 Myr [Riddihough, 1984] (in text, we refer to these most recent magnetically determined plate motions as the ‘‘Riddihough model’’). Winona block motions (thin arrows), described only qualitatively by Davis and Riddihough [1982], are not to scale. Abbreviations are RDW for Revere-Dellwood- Wilson, Win for Winona, FZ for fault zone, I for island, S for seamount, Pen for peninsula.

  • Here is the larger scale figure that shows the details of the plate boundary in this region (Braunmiller and Nabalek, 2002). Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • Close-up of the Pacific-Explorer boundary. Plotted are fault plane solutions (gray scheme as in Figure 3) and well-relocated earthquake epicenters. The SeaBeam data are from the RIDGE Multibeam Synthesis Project (http://imager.ldeo.columbia.edu) at the Lamont-Doherty Earth observatory. Epicenters labeled by solid triangles are pre-1964, historical earthquakes (see Appendix B). Solid lines mark plate boundaries inferred from bathymetry and side-scan data [Davis and Currie, 1993]; dashed were inactive. QCF is Queen Charlotte fault, TW are Tuzo Wilson seamounts, RDW is Revere-Dellwood-Wilson fault, DK are Dellwood Knolls, PRR is Paul Revere ridge, ER is Explorer Rift, ED is Explorer Deep, SERg is Southern Explorer ridge, ESM is Explorer seamount, SETB is Southwest Explorer Transform Boundary, SAT is Southwestern Assimilated Territory, ESDZ is Eastern Sovanco Deformation Zone, HSC is Heck seamount chain, WV is active west valley of Juan de Fuca ridge, MV is inactive middle valley.

  • This is the figure that shows an interpretation of how this plate boundary formed over the past 3 Ma (Braunmiller and Nabalek, 2002). Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • Schematic plate tectonic reconstruction of Explorer region during the last 3 Myr. Note the transfer of crustal blocks (hatched) from the Explorer to the Pacific plate; horizontal hatch indicates transfer before 1.5 Ma and vertical hatch transfer since then. Active boundaries are shown in bold and inactive boundaries are thin dashes. Single lines are transform faults, double lines are spreading centers; barbed lines are subduction zones with barbs in downgoing plate direction. QCF is Queen Charlotte fault, TW are the Tuzo Wilson seamounts, RDW is Revere-Dellwood-Wilson fault, DK are the Dellwood Knolls, ED is Explorer Deep, ER is Explorer Rift, ERg is Explorer Ridge, ESM is Explorer Seamount, SOV is Sovanco fracture zone, ESDZ is Eastern Sovanco Deformation Zone, JRg is Juan de Fuca ridge, and NF is Nootka fault. The question mark indicates ambiguity whether spreading offshore Brooks peninsula ceased when the Dellwood Knolls became active (requiring only one independently moving plate) or if both spreading centers, for a short time span, where active simultaneously (requiring Winona block motion independent from Explorer plate during that time).

  • Below I include some inset maps from Audet et al. (2008 ) and Dziak (2006). Each of these authors have published papers about the Explorer plate. Dziak (2006) used bathymetric and seismologic data to evaluate the faulting in the region and discussed how the Explorer plate is accommodating a reorganization of the plate boundary. Audet et al. (2008 ) use terrestrial seismic data to evaluate the crust along northern Vancouver Island and present their tectonic map as part of this research (though they do not focus on the offshore part of the Explorer plate). I include these figures below along with their figure captions. Today’s earthquakes happened at the northwestern portion of these maps from Dziak (2006).
  • Dziak, 2006

  • This map shows the shape of the seafloor in this region and there is an inset map that shows the major fault systems here.

  • Bathymetric map of northern Juan de Fuca and Explorer Ridges. Map is composite of multibeam bathymetry and satellite altimetry (Sandwell and Smith, 1997). Principal structures are labeled: ERB—Explorer Ridge Basin, SSL—strike-slip lineation. Inset map shows conventional tectonic interpretation of region. Dashed box shows location of main figure. Solid lines are active plate boundaries, dashed line shows Winona-Explorer boundary, gray ovals represent seamount chains. Solid arrows show plate motion vectors from NUVEL-1A (DeMets et al., 1994) for Pacific–North America and from Wilson (1993) for Pacific–Juan de Fuca and Juan de Fuca–North America. Open arrows are Explorer relative motion averaged over past 1 m.y. (Riddihough, 1984). Abbreviations: RDW—Revere-Dellwood-Wilson,Win—Winona block, C.O.—Cobb offset, F.Z.—fracture zone. Endeavour segment is northernmost section of Juan de Fuca Ridge.

  • This map shows the line work Dziak (2006) used to delineate the structures shown in the bathymetric map.

  • Structural interpretation map of Explorer–Juan de Fuca plate region based on composite multibeam bathymetry and satellite altimetry data (Fig. 1). Heavy lines are structural (fault) lineations, gray circles and ovals indicate volcanic cones and seamounts, dashed lines are turbidite channels. Location of magnetic anomaly 2A is shown; boundaries are angled to show regional strike of anomaly pattern.

  • This map shows the seismicity patterns (this matches the patterns in the animation above).

  • Earthquake locations estimated using U.S. Navy hydrophone arrays that occurred between August 1991 and January 2002. Focal mechanisms are of large (Mw>4.5) earthquakes that occurred during same time period, taken from Pacific Geoscience Center, National Earthquake Information Center, and Harvard moment-tensor catalogs. Red mechanism shows location of 1992 Heck Seamount main shock.

  • Here Dziak (2006) shows how they interpret that this plate boundary is being reconfigured with time. Like the rest of the adjacent plate boundary (Queen Charlotte/Fairweather, Cascadia, San Andreas), there is an overall dextral (right-lateral) shear couple between the North America and Pacific plates. Some of the existing structures represent the orientation of faults from an earlier strain field. Eventually through going faults will align with the band of seismicity in the above map and above animation. At least, that is one hypothesis. Seems reasonable to me, given the very short record of earthquakes.

  • Tectonic model of Explorer plate boundaries. Evidence presented here is consistent with zone of shear extending through Explorer plate well south of Sovanco Fracture Zone (SFZ) to include Heck, Heckle, and Springfield seamounts, and possibly Cobb offset (gray polygon roughly outlines shear zone). Moreover, Pacific– Juan de Fuca–North American triple junction may be reorganizing southward to establish at Cobb offset. QCF—Queen Charlotte fault.

  • From Audet et al. (2008), here is another view of the fault system in this part of the plate boundary.

  • Identification of major tectonic features in western Canada. BP—Brooks Peninsula, BPfz—Brooks Peninsula fault zone, NI— Nootka Island, QCTJ—Queen Charlotte triple junction. Dotted lines delineate extinct boundaries or shear zones. Seismic stations are displayed as inverted black triangles. Station projections along line 1 and line 2 are plotted as thick white lines. White triangles represent Alert Bay volcanic field centers. Center of array locates town of Woss. Plates: N-A—North America; EXP—Explorer; JdF—Juan de Fuca; PAC—Pacific.

  • Speaking of the Queen Charlotte/Fairweather fault system, here is another map that shows the tectonics of this region. Hyndman (2015) shows the region where the 2012 Haida Gwaii earthquake ruptured. I include two more figures below. This figure Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • The Queen Charlotte fault (QCF) zone, the islands of Haida Gwaii and adjacent area, and the locations of the 2012 Mw 7.8 (ellipse), 2013 Mw 7.5 (solid line), and 1949 Ms 8.1 (dashed) earthquakes. The along margin extent of the 1949 event is not well constrained.

  • This map shows the main and aftershocks from the 2012 Haida Gwaii earthquake sequence (Hyndman, 2015). This 2012 sequence is interesting because, prior to these earthquakes, it was unclear whether the fault along Haida Gwaii was a strike-slip or a thrust fault. For example, Riddihough (1984) suggests that there is no subduction going on along the Explorer plate at all. Turns out it is probably both. When this 2012 earthquake happened, I took a look at the bathymetry in Google Earth and noticed the Queen Charlotte Terrace, which looks suspiciously like an accretionary prism. This was convincing evidence for the thrust fault earthquakes. Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • Aftershocks of the 2012 Mw 7.8 Haida Gwaii thrust 13 earthquake (after Cassidy et al., 2013). They approximately define the rupture area. The normal-faulting mechanisms for two of the larger aftershocks are also shown. Many of the aftershocks are within the incoming oceanic plate and within the overriding continental plate rather than on the thrust rupture plane.

  • This is a great version of this figure that shows how there are overlapping subduction (thrust) and transform (strike-slip) faults along the Haida Gwaii region (Hyndman, 2015). Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • Model for the 2012 Mw 7.8 earthquake rupture and the partitioning of oblique convergence into margin parallel motion on the Queen Charlotte transcurrent fault and nearly orthogonal thrust convergence on the Haida Gwaii thrust fault.

  • Here is a figure that shows two ways of interpreting the Queen Charlotte triple junction region (Kreemer et al., 1998). Note the 1900-2017 seismicity map above, which supports the interpretation in the right panel (B). Something of trivial nature is that this article is from the pre-computer illustration era (see the squiggly hand drawn arrow in the right panel B). Below I include the text from the original figure caption in blockquote.

  • (A) Major tectonic features describing the micro-plate model for the Explorer region. The Explorer plate (EXP) is an independent plate and is in convergent motion towards the North American plate (NAM). V.I. D Vancouver Island; PAC D the Pacific plate; JdF D the Juan the Fuca plate. The accentuated zone between the Explorer and JdF ridges is the Sovanco transform zone and the two boundary lines do not indicate the presence of faults but define the boundaries of this zone of complex deformation. (B) The key features of the pseudo-plate model for the region are a major plate boundary transform fault zone between the North American and Pacific plates and the Nootka Transform, a left-lateral transform fault north of the Juan the Fuca plate.

Geologic Fundamentals

  • For more on the graphical representation of moment tensors and focal mechnisms, check this IRIS video out:
  • Here is a fantastic infographic from Frisch et al. (2011). This figure shows some examples of earthquakes in different plate tectonic settings, and what their fault plane solutions are. There is a cross section showing these focal mechanisms for a thrust or reverse earthquake. The upper right corner includes my favorite figure of all time. This shows the first motion (up or down) for each of the four quadrants. This figure also shows how the amplitude of the seismic waves are greatest (generally) in the middle of the quadrant and decrease to zero at the nodal planes (the boundary of each quadrant).

  • Here is another way to look at these beach balls.
  • There are three types of earthquakes, strike-slip, compressional (reverse or thrust, depending upon the dip of the fault), and extensional (normal). Here is are some animations of these three types of earthquake faults. The following three animations are from IRIS.
  • Strike Slip:

    Compressional:

    Extensional:

  • This is an image from the USGS that shows how, when an oceanic plate moves over a hotspot, the volcanoes formed over the hotspot form a series of volcanoes that increase in age in the direction of plate motion. The presumption is that the hotspot is stable and stays in one location. Torsvik et al. (2017) use various methods to evaluate why this is a false presumption for the Hawaii Hotspot.

  • A cutaway view along the Hawaiian island chain showing the inferred mantle plume that has fed the Hawaiian hot spot on the overriding Pacific Plate. The geologic ages of the oldest volcano on each island (Ma = millions of years ago) are progressively older to the northwest, consistent with the hot spot model for the origin of the Hawaiian Ridge-Emperor Seamount Chain. (Modified from image of Joel E. Robinson, USGS, in “This Dynamic Planet” map of Simkin and others, 2006.)

  • Here is a map from Torsvik et al. (2017) that shows the age of volcanic rocks at different locations along the Hawaii-Emperor Seamount Chain.

  • Hawaiian-Emperor Chain. White dots are the locations of radiometrically dated seamounts, atolls and islands, based on compilations of Doubrovine et al. and O’Connor et al. Features encircled with larger white circles are discussed in the text and Fig. 2. Marine gravity anomaly map is from Sandwell and Smith.


    References:

  • Atwater, B.F., Musumi-Rokkaku, S., Satake, K., Tsuju, Y., Eueda, K., and Yamaguchi, D.K., 2005. The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America, USGS Professional Paper 1707, USGS, Reston, VA, 144 pp.
  • Braunmiller, J. and Nabelek, J., 2002. Seismotectonics of the Explorer region in JGR, v. 107, NO. B10, 2208, doi:10.1029/2001JB000220, 2002
  • Chaytor, J.D., Goldfinger, C., Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G., 2004. Active deformation of the Gorda plate: Constraining deformation models with new geophysical data: Geology v. 32, p. 353-356.
  • Audet, P., Bostock, M.G., Mercier, J.-P., and Cassidy, J.F., 2008., Morphology of the Explorer–Juan de Fuca slab edge in northern Cascadia: Imaging plate capture at a ridge-trench-transform triple junction in Geology, v. 36, p. 895-898.
  • Clarke, S. H., and Carver, G. C., 1992. Late Holocene Tectonics and Paleoseismicity, Southern Cascadia Subduction Zone, Science, vol. 255:188-192.
  • Dziak, R.P., 2006. Explorer deformation zone: Evidence of a large shear zone and reorganization of the Pacific–Juan de Fuca–North American triple junction in Geology, v. 34, p. 213-216.
  • Flück, P., Hyndman, R. D., Rogers, G. C., and Wang, K., 1997. Three-Dimensional Dislocation Model for Great Earthquakes of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 102: 20,539-20,550.
  • Heaton, f f., Kanamori, F. F., 1984. Seismic Potential Associated with Subduction in the Northwest United States, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, vol. 74: 933-941.
  • Hyndman, R. D., and Wang, K., 1995. The rupture zone of Cascadia great earthquakes from current deformation and the thermal regime, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 100: 22,133-22,154.
  • Keemer, C., Govers, R., Furlong, K.P., and Holt, W.E., 1998. Plate boundary deformation between the Pacific and North America in the Explorer region in Tectonophysics, v. 293, p. 225-238.
  • Meyer, B., Saltus, R., Chulliat, a., 2017. EMAG2: Earth Magnetic Anomaly Grid (2-arc-minute resolution) Version 3. National Centers for Environmental Information, NOAA. Model. doi:10.7289/V5H70CVX
  • McPherson, R. M., 1989. Seismicity and Focal Mechanisms Near Cape Mendocino, Northern California: 1974-1984: M. S. thesis, Arcata, California, Humboldt State University, 75 p
  • Nelson, A.R., Asquith, A.C., and Grant, W.C., 2004. Great Earthquakes and Tsunamis of the Past 2000 Years at the Salmon River Estuary, Central Oregon Coast, USA: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 94, No. 4, pp. 1276–1292
  • Plafker, G., 1972. Alaskan earthquake of 1964 and Chilean earthquake of 1960: Implications for arc tectonics in Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 77, p. 901-925.
  • Riddihough, R., 1984. Recent Movements of the Juan de Fuca Plate System in JGR, v. 89, no. B8, p. 6980-6994.
  • Wang, K., Wells, R., Mazzotti, S., Hyndman, R. D., and Sagiya, T., 2003. A revised dislocation model of interseismic deformation of the Cascadia subduction zone Journal of Geophysical Research, B, Solid Earth and Planets v. 108, no. 1.

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Earthquake Report: Phillipines

I put these together earlier this week for me classes and finally have a moment to write about these earthquakes. The Philippines region has been quite active lately, as it frequently is. I show below a series of earthquakes from the past ~30 days. These earthquakes occurred in 4 different regions and 3 different tectonic settings. These are probably unrelated to each other, but it is difficult to really know without further analyses. After I made these posters, there was an earthquake with a magnitude of M 5.8 on the island of Mindanao (I include the USGS link below), possibly associated with the Davao River fault (the closest fault mapped in this region).

Here are the USGS websites for these earthquakes.

I took a look at the seismicity from the past century. Here are Google Earth kml files from the USGS website for earthquakes from 1917-2017 with magnitudes M ≥ 7.0 and M ≥ 7.5.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I include the USGS epicenters for earthquakes from 1917-2017 with magnitudes M ≥ 7.5.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner is a figure from Hall, 2011. This shows the plate tectonic configuration in the equatorial Pacific. Note how the upper panel shows a west dipping slab on the east side of the Philippines. Note the contrast in the center panel (Halmahera), where the eastern fault is dipping to the east (westward vergent) and the western fault is dipping to the west (eastward vergent). This region near Halmahera forms the Molucca Strait, one of the most tectonically active areas in this region.
  • In the upper right corner is a map showing the regional faults from Noda (2013). The Philippine and
  • In the lower left corner I include a map showing the seismicity and tectonic plate boundary faults for this region (Smoczyk et al., 2013). Earthquakes are plotted with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend).


  • I choose 4 earthquakes for which I plot the MMI intensity.
  • The easternmost two are earthquakes related to the subduction of the Philippine Sea plate.
  • The northwesternmost earthquake series (largest M = 5.9) is interesting and mysterious. There is a left-lateral forearc sliver fault (Philippine fault) that parallels the Philippine trench. Internal deformation in the upper plate is accommodated by a complicated series of other strike-slip faults. In the region near Manila, there is a north-south striking right-lateral Mirikina Valley fault system. The MV fault trends south from Manila into the region of the M 5.9 earthquake. This fault seems to terminate in a northeast-southwest trending zone of “extension and young volcanism” (Nelson et al., 2000). Further to the south is an east-west striking left-lateral Lubang fault. This may be an extension of the Sibuyan Sea fault (Noda, 2013), a splay of the Philippine fault. If we look at the moment tensor for the M 5.5 and 5.9 earthquakes, the nodal planes suggest either NE striking left-lateral or NW striking right-lateral motion. This does not fit the orientation nor sense of motion for any of the mapped faults in the region. It is possible that these earthquakes are related to the extensional rifting instead. The moment tensor for the M 5.1 earthquake here shows an extensional beach ball. The orientation is not completely correct based upon the Nelson et al. (2000) figure, but there are no faults shown on their map.
  • The southwestern earthquakes from March (both M 5.6) are also interesting. The epicenters show locations on north Sulawesi, part of Indonesia. There is a NW striking left-lateral strike-slip faults mapped to the west and east of these earthquakes. However, the moment tensor shows that this would be a right-lateral fault in that orientation. The NW striking reverse fault is also equally challenging to interpret. Needless to say, this is a tectonically complicated region.

Below is my interpretive poster for the M 5.9 earthquake.


  • This is the low-angle oblique view of the region (Hall, 2011).

  • 3D cartoon of plate boundaries in the Molucca Sea region modified from Hall et al. (1995). Although seismicity identifies a number of plates there are no continuous boundaries, and the Cotobato, North Sulawesi and Philippine Trenches are all intraplate features. The apparent distinction between different crust types, such as Australian continental crust and oceanic crust of the Philippine and Molucca Sea, is partly a boundary inactive since the Early Miocene (east Sulawesi) and partly a younger but now probably inactive boundary of the Sorong Fault. The upper crust of this entire region is deforming in a much more continuous way than suggested by this cartoon.

  • Here is the fault map for the region on the Island of Luzon (where Manila is located) from Nelson et al. (2000). The panel on the right (B) shows the Marikina Valley fault system (MV) and the Lubang fault. The MV is a right-lateral strike slip fault and the Lubang fault is a left-lateral strike-slip fault.

  • Tectonic setting of the Marikina Valley fault system (MV) in central Luzon, the Philippines. Diagram A shows subduction zone trenches by barbed lines, other faults with high rates of Quaternary activity by heavy black lines. White dots show locations of recent earthquakes on the Philippine fault in Luzon (M 7.8; 1990) and the Aglubang River fault in Mindoro (M 7.1; 1994). Diagram B shows how the Marikina Valley pull-apart basin (MV) may have been formed through extension caused by clockwise rotation (dashed circle) and shearing of central Luzon, which is caught between two active left-lateral strike-slip faults—the Philippine fault (Nakata et al., 1977; Barrier et al., 1991; Ringenbach et al., 1993; Aurelio et al., 1993) and the Lubang fault. A zone of extension and young volcanism south of the fault system has also influenced the structural development of the valley (Fo¨rster et al., 1990; Defant et al., 1988).

  • Here is the map from Noda (2013) that shows various strike slip faults associated with subduction zones.

  • Modern examples of trench-linked strike-slip faults. (A) The Median Tectonic Line (MTL) active fault system in southwestern Japan, related to oblique subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate (PS) along the Nankai Trough (NT). (B) The Great Sumatra Fault system (GSF) along the Java–Sumatra Trench (JST). (C) Strike-slip faults in Alaska. Fault names: DF, Denali; BRF, Boarder Ranges; CSEF, Chugach St. Elias; FF, Fairweather; TF, Transition. (D) The Philippine Fault system (PF). Abbreviations: SSF, Sibuyan Sea Fault; MT, Manila Trench; PT, Philippine Trench; ELT, East Luzon Trough. Plate names: AM, Amur; OK, Okhotsk; PS, Philippine Sea; AU, Australian; SU, Sundaland; NA, North American; PA, Pacific; YMC, Yukutat microcontinent. Black and purple lines are subduction zones and trench-linked strike-slip faults, respectively. All maps were drawn using SRTM and GEBCO with plate boundary data [30]. Blue arrows indicate the direction and velocity of relative plate motion (mm yr-1) based on [31].

The USGS Maps and Cross-Sections

  • Here is the map from Smocyk et al., 2013, followed by the legend. The entire poster is here (92 MB pdf).


  • Below are two cross sections that show the subduction zone seismicity, followed by the legend. The location of these cross sections are labeled on the map above.



  • This map shows the seismic hazard for this region. The color represents the likelihood of any region experiencing ground shaking of a particular magnitude. The scale is “Peak Ground Acceleration.” Units are m/s^2. Purple represents gravitational acceleration of 1 g, gravity at Earth’s surface. Note how most of the earthquakes were in the region of higher likely ground shaking, except for the Sulawesi earthquakes.

  • In January of this year, there was an M 7.3 earthquake in the Celebes Sea south of the Philippines. Below is my interpretive map for that earthquake. I also present the same poster with 1917-2017 seismicity for earthquakes M ≥ 6.5. Here is my earthquake report for this M 7.3 earthquake. I include more background information for the Molucca Strait region on this page.


References:

  • Bock et al., 2003. Crustal motion in Indonesia from Global Positioning System measurements in JGR, v./ 108, no. B8, 2367, doi:10.1029/2001JB000324
  • Hall, R., 2011. Australia–SE Asia collision: plate tectonics and crustal flow in Hall, R., Cottam, M. A. &Wilson, M. E. J. (eds) The SE Asian Gateway: History and Tectonics of the Australia–Asia Collision. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 355, 75–109.
  • Hayes, G.P., Wald, D.J., and Johnson, R.L., 2012. Slab1.0: A three-dimensional model of global subduction zone geometries in, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B01302, doi:10.1029/2011JB008524
  • McCaffrey, R., Silver, E.A., and Raitt, R.W., 1980. Crustal Structure of the Molucca Sea Collision Zone, Indonesia in The Tectonic and Geologic Evolution of Southeast Asian Seas and Islands-Geophysical Monograph 23, p. 161-177.
  • Nelson, A.R., Personius, S.F., Rimando, R.E>, Punongbayan, R.S., Tungol, N, Mirabueno, H., and Rasdas, A., 2000. Multiple Large Earthquakes in the Past 1500 Years on a Fault in Metropolitan Manila, the Philippines in BSSA vol. 90, p. 73-85.
  • Noda, A., 2013. Strike-Slip Basin – Its Configuration and Sedimentary Facies in Mechanism of Sedimentary Basin Formation – Multidisciplinary Approach on Active Plate Margins http://www.intechopen.com/books/mechanism-of-sedimentarybasin-formation-multidisciplinary-approach-on-active-plate-margins http://dx.doi.org/10.5772/56593
  • Smoczyk, G.M., Hayes, G.P., Hamburger, M.W., Benz, H.M., Villaseñor, Antonio, and Furlong, K.P., 2013. Seismicity of the Earth 1900–2012 Philippine Sea plate and vicinity: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010–1083-M, 1 sheet, scale 1:10,000,000.
  • Waltham et al., 2008. Basin formation by volcanic arc loading in GSA Special Papers 2008, v. 436, p. 11-26.
  • Zahirovic et al., 2014. The Cretaceous and Cenozoic tectonic evolution of Southeast Asia in Solid Earth, v. 5, p. 227-273, doi:10.5194/se-5-227-2014.

Good Friday Earthquake 27 March 1964

In March of 1964, plate tectonics was still a hotly debated topic at scientific meetings worldwide. Some people still do not accept this theory (some Russian geologists favor alternative hypotheses; Shevchenko et al., 2006). At the time, there was some debate about whether the M 9.2 earthquake (the 2nd largest earthquake recorded with modern seismometers) was from a strike-slip or from a revers/thrust earthquake. Plafker and his colleagues found the evidence to put that debate to rest (see USGS video below).

I have prepared a new map showing the 1964 earthquake in context to the plate boundary using the same methods I have been using for my other earthquake reports. I also found a focal mechanism for this M 9.2 earthquake and included this on the map (Stauder and Bollinger, 1966).

    Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.

  • 1964.03.27 M 9.2

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I include a focal mechanism for the M 9.2 earthquake determined by Stauder and Bollinger (1966). I include the USGS epicenters for earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 7.0.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault. The hypocentral depth of the M 5.5 plots this close to the location of the fault as mapped by Hayes et al. (2012).

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper left corner I include two maps from the USGS, both using the MMI scale of shaking intensity mentioned above. The map on the left is the USGS Shakemap. This is a map that shows an estimate of how strongly the ground would shake during this earthquake. This is based upon a numerical model using Ground Motion Prediction Equations (GMPE), which are empirical relations between fault types, earthquake magnitude, distance from the fault, and shaking intensity. The map on the right is based upon peoples’ direct observations. Below each map are plots that show how these models demonstrate that the MMI attenuates (diminishes) with distance. The lines are the empirical relations. The dots are the data points.
  • To the right of those maps and figures is a map produced by Dr. Peter Haeussler from the USGS Alaska Science Center (pheuslr at usgs.gov) that shows the historic earthquakes along the Aleutian-Alaska subduction zone.
  • In the lower right corner I include an inset map from the USGS Seismicity History poster for this region (Benz et al., 2011). There is one seismicity cross section with its locations plotted on the map. The USGS plot these hypocenters along this cross section E-E’ (in green).
  • In the upper right corner, I include a figure that shows the measurements of uplift and subsidence observed by Plafker and his colleagues following the earthquake (Plafker, 1969). This is shown in map view and as a cross section.


Below is an educational video from the USGS that presents material about subduction zones and the 1964 earthquake and tsunami in particular.
Youtube Source IRIS

mp4 file for downloading.

    Credits:

  • Animation & graphics by Jenda Johnson, geologist
  • Directed by Robert F. Butler, University of Portland
  • U.S. Geological Survey consultants: Robert C. Witter, Alaska Science Center Peter J. Haeussler, Alaska Science Center
  • Narrated by Roger Groom, Mount Tabor Middle School

This is a map from Haeussler et al. (2014). The region in red shows the area that subsided and the area in blue shows the region that uplifted during the earthquake. These regions were originally measured in the field by George Plafker and published in several documents, including this USGS Professional Paper (Plafker, 1969).


Here is a cross section showing the differences of vertical deformation between the coseismic (during the earthquake) and interseismic (between earthquakes).


This figure, from Atwater et al. (2005) shows the earthquake deformation cycle and includes the aspect that the uplift deformation of the seafloor can cause a tsunami.


Here is a figure recently published in the 5th International Conference of IGCP 588 by the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Dept. of Natural Resources, State of Alaska (State of Alaska, 2015). This is derived from a figure published originally by Plafker (1969). There is a cross section included that shows how the slip was distributed along upper plate faults (e.g. the Patton Bay and Middleton Island faults).


Here is a graphic showing the sediment-stratigraphic evidence of earthquakes in Cascadia, but the analogy works for Alaska also. Atwater et al., 2005. There are 3 panels on the left, showing times of (1) prior to earthquake, (2) several years following the earthquake, and (3) centuries after the earthquake. Before the earthquake, the ground is sufficiently above sea level that trees can grow without fear of being inundated with salt water. During the earthquake, the ground subsides (lowers) so that the area is now inundated during high tides. The salt water kills the trees and other plants. Tidal sediment (like mud) starts to be deposited above the pre-earthquake ground surface. This sediment has organisms within it that reflect the tidal environment. Eventually, the sediment builds up and the crust deforms interseismically until the ground surface is again above sea level. Now plants that can survive in this environment start growing again. There are stumps and tree snags that were rooted in the pre-earthquake soil that can be used to estimate the age of the earthquake using radiocarbon age determinations. The tree snags form “ghost forests.


This is a photo that I took along the Seward HWY 1, that runs east of Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm. I attended the 2014 Seismological Society of America Meeting that was located in Anchorage to commemorate the anniversary of the Good Friday Earthquake. This is a ghost forest of trees that perished as a result of coseismic subsidence during the earthquake. Copyright Jason R. Patton (2014). This region subsided coseismically during the 1964 earthquake. Here are some photos from the paleoseismology field trip. (Please contact me for a higher resolution version of this image: quakejay at gmail.com)


Here is the USGS shakemap for this earthquake. The USGS used a fault model, delineated as black rectangles, to model ground shaking at the surface. The color scale refers to the Modified Mercalli Intensity scale, shown at the bottom.


http://earthjay.com/earthquakes/19640327_alaska/intensity.jpg

There is a great USGS Open File Report that summarizes the tectonics of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands (Benz et al., 2011). I include a section of their poster here. Below is the map legend.




Most recently, there was an earthquake along the Alaska Peninsula, a M 7.1 on 2016.01.24. Here is my earthquake report for this earthquake. Here is a map for the earthquakes of magnitude greater than or equal to M 7.0 between 1900 and today. This is the USGS query that I used to make this map. One may locate the USGS web pages for all the earthquakes on this map by following that link.


Here is an interesting map from Atwater et al., 2001. This figure shows how the estuarine setting in Portage, Alaska (along Turnagain Arm, southeast of Anchorage) had recovered its ground surface elevation in a short time following the earthquake. Within a decade, the region that had coseismically subsided was supporting a meadow with shrubs. By 1980, a spruce tree was growing here. This recovery was largely due to sedimentation, but an unreconciled amount of postseismic tectonic uplift contributed also. I include their figure caption as a blockquote.


(A and B) Tectonic setting of the 1964 Alaska earthquake. Subsidence from Plafker (1969). (C) Postearthquake deposits and their geologic setting in the early 1970s. (D–F) Area around Portage outlined in C, showing the landscape two years before the earthquake (D), two years after the earthquake (E), and nine years after the earthquake (F). In F, location of benchmark P 73 is from http://www.ngs.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/ds2.prl and the Seward (D-6) SE 7.5-minute quadrangle, provisional edition of 1984.

    Here is the tsunami forecast animation from the National Tsunami Warning Center. Below the animation, I include their caption as a blockquote. This includes information about the earthquake and the formation of the warning center.

  • Here is a link to the file for the embedded video below (22 MB 720 mp4)
  • Here is a link to the higher resolution file for the embedded video below (44 MB 1080 mp4)
  • At 5:36 pm on Friday, March 27, 1964 (28 March, 03:36Z UTC) the largest earthquake ever measured in North America, and the second-largest recorded anywhere, struck 40 miles west of Valdez, Alaska in Prince William Sound with a moment magnitude we now know to be 9.2. Almost an hour and a half later the Honolulu Magnetic and Seismic Observatory (later renamed the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, or PTWC) was able to issue its first “tidal wave advisory” that noted that a tsunami was possible and that it could arrive in the Hawaiian Islands five hours later. Upon learning of a tsunami observation in Kodiak Island, Alaska, an hour and a half later the Honolulu Observatory issued a formal “tidal wave/seismic sea-wave warning” cautioning that damage was possible in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Ocean but that it was not possible to predict the intensity of the tsunami. The earthquake did in fact generate a tsunami that killed 124 people (106 in Alaska, 13 in California, and 5 in Oregon) and caused about $2.3 billion (2016 dollars) in property loss all along the Pacific coast of North America from Alaska to southern California and in Hawaii. The greatest wave heights were in Alaska at over 67 m or 220 ft. and waves almost 10 m or 32 ft high struck British Columbia, Canada. In the “lower 48” waves as high as 4.5 m or 15 ft. struck Washington, as high as 3.7 m or 12 ft. struck Oregon, and as high as 4.8 m or over 15 ft. struck California. Waves of similar size struck Hawaii at nearly 5 m or over 16 ft. high. Waves over 1 m or 3 ft. high also struck Mexico, Chile, and even New Zealand.
  • As part of its response to this event the United States government created a second tsunami warning facility in 1967 at the Palmer Observatory, Alaska–now called the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC, http://ntwc.arh.noaa.gov/ )–to help mitigate future tsunami threats to Alaska, Canada, and the U.S. Mainland.
  • Today, more than 50 years since the Great Alaska Earthquake, PTWC and NTWC issue tsunami warnings in minutes, not hours, after a major earthquake occurs, and will also forecast how large any resulting tsunami will be as it is still crossing the ocean. PTWC can also create an animation of a historical tsunami with the same tool that it uses to determine tsunami hazards in real time for any tsunami today: the Real-Time Forecasting of Tsunamis (RIFT) forecast model. The RIFT model takes earthquake information as input and calculates how the waves move through the world’s oceans, predicting their speed, wavelength, and amplitude. This animation shows these values through the simulated motion of the waves and as they travel through the world’s oceans one can also see the distance between successive wave crests (wavelength) as well as their height (half-amplitude) indicated by their color. More importantly, the model also shows what happens when these tsunami waves strike land, the very information that PTWC needs to issue tsunami hazard guidance for impacted coastlines. From the beginning the animation shows all coastlines covered by colored points. These are initially a blue color like the undisturbed ocean to indicate normal sea level, but as the tsunami waves reach them they will change color to represent the height of the waves coming ashore, and often these values are higher than they were in the deeper waters offshore. The color scheme is based on PTWC’s warning criteria, with blue-to-green representing no hazard (less than 30 cm or ~1 ft.), yellow-to-orange indicating low hazard with a stay-off-the-beach recommendation (30 to 100 cm or ~1 to 3 ft.), light red-to-bright red indicating significant hazard requiring evacuation (1 to 3 m or ~3 to 10 ft.), and dark red indicating a severe hazard possibly requiring a second-tier evacuation (greater than 3 m or ~10 ft.).
  • Toward the end of this simulated 24 hours of activity the wave animation will transition to the “energy map” of a mathematical surface representing the maximum rise in sea-level on the open ocean caused by the tsunami, a pattern that indicates that the kinetic energy of the tsunami was not distributed evenly across the oceans but instead forms a highly directional “beam” such that the tsunami was far more severe in the middle of the “beam” of energy than on its sides. This pattern also generally correlates to the coastal impacts; note how those coastlines directly in the “beam” are hit by larger waves than those to either side of it.

References:

Earthquake Report: Bougainville and Solomons

In the past couple of weeks, there were some earthquakes in the equatorial western Pacific.

    Here are the USGS websites for the two largest earthquakes in the two regions.

  • 2017.03.04 M 6.1
  • 2017.03.19 M 6.0

The M 6.1 was a well behaved subduction zone earthquake associated with subduction of the Solomon Sea plate beneath the Solomon Islands, an island arc formed between opposing subduction zones. The M 6.0 earthquake and related earthquakes are more interesting. Baldwin et al. (2012) and Holm et al. (2016) both consider the North Solomon Trench (NST) to be inactive subduction zone, while the South Solomon Trench (SST) is an active subduction zone fault. There were 9 earthquakes larger than magnitude 2.5. The depths ranged between 4.2 and 53 km. There does not appear to be any direction that favors a deepening trend (i.e. getting deeper in the direction of the downgoing subduction zone fault). It is possible that these depths are not well constrained (the M 6.0 has a 4.2 km depth). These NNT earthquakes are either related to the NST, related to crustal faults, or reactivation of NST fault structures. Regardless, these are some interesting and mysterious earthquakes.

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.


I plot the seismicity from the past year, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend).

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northeast-southwest compression, perpendicular to the convergence at these plate boundaries.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault.
  • I include some inset figures.

  • In the upper right corner is a map from Holm et al. (2016) that shows various key elements of the plate configuration in this region. Colors representing the age of the crust shows how the Woodlark Basin has an active spreading ridge system with ridges striking East-West. Large Igneous Provinces are shown here in dark gray. A relevant cross section is C-D, with the location highlighted in magenta on the map. The cross section shows how the North Solomon Trench is configured.
  • In the lower left corner is a generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2016. This map shows the major plate boundary faults. Active subduction zones have shaded triangle fault symbols, while inactive subduction zones have un-shaded triangle fault line symbols.
  • In the upper left corner a figure from Oregon State University, which are based upon Hamilton (1979). “Tectonic microplates of the Melanesian region. Arrows show net plate motion relative to the Australian Plate.” This is from Johnson, 1976.
  • In the lower right corner is a figure from Baldwin et al. (2012). This figure shows a series of cross sections along this convergent plate boundary from the Solomon Islands in the east to Papua New Guinea in the west. Cross sections ‘A’ and ‘B’ are the most representative for the earthquakes today. I placed the general location of these cross sections on the main map as dashed orange lines. I present the map and this figure again below, with their original captions.


  • The M 6.1 is probably related to a series of earthquakes, including two M 7.9 megathrust events, further north along the San Crostobal Trench. Below are two earthquake interpretive posters for these earthquakes. This first poster is from my earthquake report on 2017.01.22.

  • In earlier earthquake reports, I discussed seismicity from 2000-2015 here. The seismicity on the west of this region appears aligned with north-south shortening along the New Britain trench, while seismicity on the east of this region appears aligned with more east-west shortening. Here is a map that I put together where I show these two tectonic domains with the seismicity from this time period (today’s earthquakes are not plotted on this map, but one may see where they might plot).


Background Figures

  • This figure shows an interpretation of the regional tectonics (Holm et al., 2016). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic setting of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. a) Regional plate boundaries and tectonic elements. Light grey shading illustrates bathymetry b 2000 m below sea level indicative of continental or arc crust, and oceanic plateaus; 1000 m depth contour is also shown. Adelbert Terrane (AT); Bismarck Sea fault (BSF); Bundi fault zone (BFZ); Feni Deep (FD); Finisterre Terrane (FT); Gazelle Peninsula (GP); Kia-Kaipito-Korigole fault zone (KKKF); Lagaip fault zone (LFZ); Mamberamo thrust belt (MTB); Manus Island (MI); New Britain (NB); New Ireland (NI); North Sepik arc (NSA); Ramu-Markham fault (RMF); Weitin Fault (WF);West Bismarck fault (WBF); Willaumez-Manus Rise (WMR).

  • This figure shows details of the regional tectonics (Holm et al., 2016). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • a) Present day tectonic features of the Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands region as shown in plate reconstructions. Sea floor magnetic anomalies are shown for the Caroline plate (Gaina and Müller, 2007), Solomon Sea plate (Gaina and Müller, 2007) and Coral Sea (Weissel and Watts, 1979). Outline of the reconstructed Solomon Sea slab (SSP) and Vanuatu slab (VS)models are as indicated. b) Cross-sections related to the present day tectonic setting. Section locations are as indicated. Bismarck Sea fault (BSF); Feni Deep (FD); Louisiade Plateau
    (LP); Manus Basin (MB); New Britain trench (NBT); North Bismarck microplate (NBP); North Solomon trench (NST); Ontong Java Plateau (OJP); Ramu-Markham fault (RMF); San Cristobal trench (SCT); Solomon Sea plate (SSP); South Bismarck microplate (SBP); Trobriand trough (TT); projected Vanuatu slab (VS); West Bismarck fault (WBF); West Torres Plateau (WTP); Woodlark Basin (WB).

  • This map shows plate velocities and euler poles for different blocks. Note the counterclockwise motion of the plate that underlies the Solomon Sea (Baldwin et al., 2012). I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Tectonic maps of the New Guinea region. (a) Seismicity, volcanoes, and plate motion vectors. Plate motion vectors relative to the Australian plate are surface velocity models based on GPS data, fault slip rates, and earthquake focal mechanisms (UNAVCO, http://jules.unavco.org/Voyager/Earth). Earthquake data are sourced from the International Seismological Center EHB Bulletin (http://www.isc.ac.uk); data represent events from January 1994 through January 2009 with constrained focal depths. Background image is generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Abbreviations: AB, Arafura Basin; AT, Aure Trough; AyT, Ayu Trough; BA, Banda arc; BSSL, Bismarck Sea seismic lineation; BH, Bird’s Head; BT, Banda Trench; BTFZ, Bewani-Torricelli fault zone; DD, Dayman Dome; DEI, D’Entrecasteaux Islands; FP, Fly Platform; GOP, Gulf of Papua; HP, Huon peninsula; LA, Louisiade Archipelago; LFZ, Lowlands fault zone; MaT, Manus Trench; ML, Mt. Lamington; MT, Mt. Trafalgar; MuT, Mussau Trough; MV, Mt. Victory; MTB, Mamberamo thrust belt; MVF, Managalase Plateau volcanic field; NBT, New Britain Trench; NBA, New Britain arc; NF, Nubara fault; NGT, New Guinea Trench; OJP, Ontong Java Plateau; OSF, Owen Stanley fault zone; PFTB, Papuan fold-and-thrust belt; PP, Papuan peninsula; PRi, Pocklington Rise; PT, Pocklington Trough; RMF, Ramu-Markham fault; SST, South Solomons Trench; SA, Solomon arc; SFZ, Sorong fault zone; ST, Seram Trench; TFZ, Tarera-Aiduna fault zone; TJ, AUS-WDKPAC triple junction; TL, Tasman line; TT, Trobriand Trough;WD, Weber Deep;WB, Woodlark Basin;WFTB, Western (Irian) fold-and-thrust belt; WR,Woodlark Rift; WRi, Woodlark Rise; WTB, Weyland thrust; YFZ, Yapen fault zone.White box indicates the location shown in Figure 3. (b) Map of plates, microplates, and tectonic blocks and elements of the New Guinea region. Tectonic elements modified after Hill & Hall (2003). Abbreviations: ADB, Adelbert block; AOB, April ultramafics; AUS, Australian plate; BHB, Bird’s Head block; CM, Cyclops Mountains; CWB, Cendrawasih block; CAR, Caroline microplate; EMD, Ertsberg Mining District; FA, Finisterre arc; IOB, Irian ophiolite belt; KBB, Kubor & Bena blocks (including Bena Bena terrane); LFTB, Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt; MA, Mapenduma anticline; MB, Mamberamo Basin block; MO, Marum ophiolite belt; MHS, Manus hotspot; NBS, North Bismarck plate; NGH, New Guinea highlands block; NNG, Northern New Guinea block; OKT, Ok Tedi mining district; PAC, Pacific plate; PIC, Porgera intrusive complex; PSP, Philippine Sea plate; PUB, Papuan Ultramafic Belt ophiolite; SB, Sepik Basin block; SDB, Sunda block; SBS, South Bismarck plate; SIB, Solomon Islands block; WP, Wandamen peninsula; WDK, Woodlark microplate; YQ, Yeleme quarries.

  • This figure incorporates cross sections and map views of various parts of the regional tectonics (Baldwin et al., 2012). The New Britain region is in the map near the A and B sections. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

  • Oblique block diagram of New Guinea from the northeast with schematic cross sections showing the present-day plate tectonic setting. Digital elevation model was generated from http://www.geomapapp.org. Oceanic crust in tectonic cross sections is shown by thick black-and-white hatched lines, with arrows indicating active subduction; thick gray-and-white hatched lines indicate uncertain former subduction. Continental crust, transitional continental crust, and arc-related crust are shown without pattern. Representative geologic cross sections across parts of slices C and D are marked with transparent red ovals and within slices B and E are shown by dotted lines. (i ) Cross section of the Papuan peninsula and D’Entrecasteaux Islands modified from Little et al. (2011), showing the obducted ophiolite belt due to collision of the Australian (AUS) plate with an arc in the Paleogene, with later Pliocene extension and exhumation to form the D’Entrecasteaux Islands. (ii ) Cross section of the Papuan peninsula after Davies & Jaques (1984) shows the Papuan ophiolite thrust over metamorphic rocks of AUS margin affinity. (iii ) Across the Papuan mainland, the cross section after Crowhurst et al. (1996) shows the obducted Marum ophiolite and complex folding and thrusting due to collision of the Melanesian arc (the Adelbert, Finisterre, and Huon blocks) in the Late Miocene to recent. (iv) Across the Bird’s Head, the cross section after Bailly et al. (2009) illustrates deformation in the Lengguru fold-and-thrust belt as a result of Late Miocene–Early Pliocene northeast-southwest shortening, followed by Late Pliocene–Quaternary extension. Abbreviations as in Figure 2, in addition to NI, New Ireland; SI, Solomon Islands; SS, Solomon Sea; (U)HP, (ultra)high-pressure.


Background Videos

  • I put together an animation that shows the seismicity for this region from 1900-2016 for earthquakes with magnitude of M ≥ 6.5. Here is the USGS query I used to search for these data used in this animation. I show the location of the Benz et al. (2011) cross section E-E’ as a yellow line on the main map.
  • In this animation, I include some figures from the interpretive poster above. I also include a tectonic map based upon Hamilton (1979). Music is from copyright free music online and is entitled “Sub Strut.” Above the video I present a map showing all the earthquakes presented in the video.
  • Here is a link to the embedded video below (5 MB mp4)


References:

Earthquake Report: Alaska

We had an earthquake a few days ago along the Cook Strait west of Anchorage, Alaska. This earthquake happened nearby a couple earthquakes from the past 2 years that have similar senses of motion along faults that seem to be oriented the same. Here is my report for the 2016 M 7.1 earthquake.

    The USGS websites for the three large earthquakes with moment tensors plotted on the poster are here

  • 2015.07.29 M 6.3
  • 2016.01.24 M 7.1
  • 2017.03.02 M 5.5

Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.

I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also include seismicity from 2015-2017 for earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 4.0.

  • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensors for all three of these earthquakes are very similar.
  • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
  • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault. The hypocentral depth plots this close to the location of the fault as mapped by Hayes et al. (2012). All three earthquakes listed above plot clearly within the downgoing Pacific plate slab.

    I include some inset figures in the poster.

  • In the upper right corner is a map produced by Dr. Peter Haeussler from the USGS Alaska Science Center (pheuslr at usgs.gov) that shows the historic earthquakes along the Aleutian-Alaska subduction zone.
  • In the upper left corner I include an inset map from the USGS Seismicity History poster for this region (Benz et al., 2010). There is one seismicity cross section with its locations plotted on the map. The USGS plot these hypocenters along this cross section and I include that below (with the legend). I placed orange circles on the map and cross section showing the general location of the M 7.1 and M 5.5 earthquakes. The M 6.3 earthquake would plot almost in the same location as the M 7.1.
  • To the right of the Benz et al. (2010) figures is a map showing seismicity plotted as dots colored vs. depth. This map is from the Alaska Earthquake Center as presented by IRIS.
  • In the lower right corner are the MMI intensity maps for the two earthquakes listed above: 2015 M 6.3, 2016 M 7.1, and 2017 M 5.5. These figures were created by the USGS, but were made at different sizes, so they don’t match perfectly (don’t ask me why they keep changing the sizes of their figures and maps, I don’t know the answer). Below each map are plotted the reports from the Did You Feel It? USGS website for each earthquake. These reports are plotted as green dots with intensity on the vertical axes and distance on the horizontal axes. There are comparisons with Ground Motion Prediction Equation (attenuation relations) results (the orange model uses empirical data from central and eastern US earthquakes; the green model uses empirical data from earthquakes in California). Neither model seems appropriate given the DYFI results, though the California model works slightly better for the M 5.5 earthquake.


Here is the same poster with only seismicity from the past 30 days plotted.


  • Dr. Peter Haeussler produced a cross section for this region, as prepared for the 2016 M 7.1 earthquake. Below is his description of this figure.

  • I made up a quick diagram (thanks Alaska Earthquake Center tools) showing the tectonic setting of the earthquake. This was a “Benioff zone” event, which means that the earthquake is related to bending of the subducting Pacific Plate as it slides into the mantle.

  • Here is a map for the earthquakes of magnitude greater than or equal to M 7.0 between 1900 and 2016. This is the USGS query that I used to make this map. One may locate the USGS web pages for all the earthquakes on this map by following that link.

    • Here is a cross section showing the differences of vertical deformation between the coseismic (during the earthquake) and interseismic (between earthquakes).

    • Here is a figure recently published in the 5th International Conference of IGCP 588 by the Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Dept. of Natural Resources, State of Alaska (State of Alaska, 2015). This is derived from a figure published originally by Plafker (1969). There is a cross section included that shows how the slip was distributed along upper plate faults (e.g. the Patton Bay and Middleton Island faults).

    References:

  • Earthquake Report: Solomons!

    Yesterday there began a swarm of seismic activity along the southern Solomon trench. What began with a M 7.8 earthquake on 2016.12.08, there have been many aftershocks including a M 6.9 this morning (my time).

    Below is my interpretive poster for this earthquake.


    I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I also plot the moment tensor and rupture slip patch for the 2007.04.01 M 8.1 subduction zone tsunamigenic earthquake.

    • I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. The moment tensor shows northeast-southwest compression, perpendicular to the convergence at this plate boundary. Most of the recent seismicity in this region is associated with convergence along the New Britain trench or the South Solomon trench.
    • I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.
    • I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault. The hypocentral depth plots this close to the location of the fault as mapped by Hayes et al. (2012). So, the earthquake is either in the downgoing slab, or in the upper plate and a result of the seismogenic locked plate transferring the shear strain from a fracture zone in the downgoing plate to the upper plate.
    • Here are the USGS web pages for the larger magnitude earthquakes.
    • 2016.12.08 17:38 M 7.8
    • 2016.12.08 18:03 M 5.6
    • 2016.12.08 21:48 M 5.5
    • 2016.12.08 21:56 M 6.5
    • 2016.12.09 19:10 M 6.9
    • 2016.12.09 17:38 M 5.5
    • 2016.12.09 21:38 M 5.8
    • 2016.12.09 23:39 M 5.6
    • I include some inset figures.

    • In the upper right corner is a generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. This map shows the major plate boundary faults including the New Britain trench (NBT), one of the main culprits for recent seismicity of this region.
    • To the left of this map is the USGS fault plane solution. This figure shows their model results with color representing the spatial variation in earthquake fault slip for this M 7.8 earthquake. This model is calibrated using seismologic observations. The MMI contours reflect the rectangular fault plane used in their model. Smaller earthquake are modeled using a point source (imagine an hypocenter as a source instead of a rectangular fault slip source). These point source MMI contours are generally more circular looking (except where they intersect topography or regions with bedrock that might amplify seismic waves).
    • Below the Holm et al. (2015) map is a map that shows the region of this subduction zone that ruptured in 2007 (USGS, 2007). This M 8.1 earthquake caused a damaging tsunami. Here is the USGS website for this earthquake.
    • In the lower left corner is another generalized tectonic map of the region from Benz et al., 201. This map shows historic seismicity for this region. Earthquake epicenters are colored to represent depth and sized to represent magnitude. There is a yellow star located approximately in the location of today’s M 7.8. This earthquake has a similar down-dip distance as the 2007.04.01 M 8.1 earthquake (the large red dot labeled 2007 near the intersection of the Woodlark Spreading Center and the South Solomon Trench). The 2007 earthquake generated a large damaging tsunami. I include the cross section that shows hypocentral depths for earthquakes in the region between the 2007 April and 2016 December earthquakes.


    • This is an image of the HSU Baby Benioff seismograph showing the M 7.8 earthquake.


    • This swarm of earthquake may be the result of a a static coulomb stress change along the subduction fault as imparted by the strike-slip earthquakes from mid-May of 2015. There is a transform plate boundary connecting the southern South Solomon Trench with the northern New Hebrides Trench. There were three earthquakes with upper M 6 magnitudes. These were left lateral strike slip faults that may have increased the stress along the subduction zone faults to the east and west of these earthquakes. This current swarm of earthquakes may be in the region of increased stress, but I have not modeled this myself (too much other stuff to do right now). There is no way to know what the state of stress along these subduction zone faults was prior to the May 2007 earthquakes, but for there to be static triggering like this, the fault would need to be at a high state of stress.
      • Here are the USGS web pages for the three largest earthquakes in this May 2007 series:

      • 2015.05.20 Mw 6.8
      • 2015.05.22 Mw 6.9
      • 2015.05.22 Mw 6.8
    • Here is a map that I put together. I plot the epicenters of the earthquakes, along with the moment tensors for the three largest magnitude earthquakes. I also place a transparent focal mechanism over the swarm, showing the sense of motion for this plate boundary fault. More is presented in my Earthquake Report for this May 2007 series.
    • I also note that these three largest earthquakes happen in a time order from east to west, unzipping the fault over three +- days. I label them in order (1, 2, 3) and place an orange arrow depicting this temporal relation). Very cool!

    • In addition, there was a subduction zone earthquake to the north of the current swarm. There was a M 6.0 in 2016.09.14. Here is my report for that earthquake. Below is my interpretive poster for that earthquake. This was a much smaller earthquake, but still may have contributed slightly. Coulomb modeling might help, but that would only produce estimates of stress change.

    • In 2015 November, there was a strike slip earthquake even further to the north. It seems improbable that this earthquake would have directly affected the fault to encourage rupture for the current swarm. Here is my Earthquake Report for the November earthquake.


    Background Figures

    • Here is the generalized tectonic map of the region from Holm et al., 2015. I include the figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • Tectonic setting and mineral deposits of eastern Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. The modern arc setting related to formation of the mineral deposits comprises, from west to east, the West Bismarck arc, the New Britain arc, the Tabar-Lihir-Tanga-Feni Chain and the Solomon arc, associated with north-dipping subduction/underthrusting at the Ramu-Markham fault zone, New Britain trench and San Cristobal trench respectively. Arrows denote plate motion direction of the Australian and Pacific plates. Filled triangles denote active subduction. Outlined triangles denote slow or extinct subduction. NBP: North Bismarck plate; SBP: South Bismarck plate; AT: Adelbert Terrane; FT: Finisterre Terrane; RMF: Ramu-Markham fault zone; NBT: New Britain trench.


    Background Videos

    • I put together an animation that shows the seismicity for this region from 1900-2016 for earthquakes with magnitude of M ≥ 6.5. Here is the USGS query I used to search for these data used in this animation. I show the location of the Benz et al. (2011) cross section E-E’ as a yellow line on the main map.
    • In this animation, I include some figures from the interpretive poster above. I also include a tectonic map based upon Hamilton (1979). Music is from copyright free music online and is entitled “Sub Strut.” Above the video I present a map showing all the earthquakes presented in the video.
    • Here is a link to the embedded video below (5 MB mp4)

      In this region, there was a subduction zone earthquake that generated ground deformation and a tsunami on 2007.04.10. Below is some information about that earthquake and tsunami.

    • Here is a map from the USGS that shows the rupture area of the 2007 earthquake with a hashed polygon. The epicenter is shown as a red dot. The USGS preliminary analysis of the tsunami is here. I include their text as a blockquote below.

    • The M=8.1 earthquake that occurred in the Solomon Islands on April 1, 2007 (UTC), was located along the Solomon Islands subduction zone, part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”. A subduction zone is a type of plate tectonic boundary where one plate is pulled (subducted) beneath another plate. For most subduction zones that make up the western half of the Ring of Fire, the Pacific plate is being subducted beneath local plates. In this case, however, the Pacific plate is the overriding or upper plate. There are three plates being subducted along the Solomon Islands subduction zone: the Solomon Sea plate, the Woodlark plate, and the Australian plate (see figure below). A spreading center separates the Woodlark and Australian plates. More detailed information on the plate tectonics of this region can be found in Tregoning and others (1998) and Bird (2003).

    • I put together this map to show how the New Britain and Solomon trenches meet. Earthquakes along the New Britain trench have principal stress aligned perpendicular to the New Britain trench and earthquakes along the Solomon trench have principal stresses aligned perpendicular to the Solomon trench due to strain partitioning in the upper plate. I provide more links and explanations about these earthquakes on this page.


    Below are some Earthquake Reports for this region of the western Pacific


    Earthquake Report: Mendocino fault Update #1

    Today is one of my busiest days of the semester. I am administering a final and my two classes are presenting their video projects. Then, we had this M 6.5 earthquake in the wee hours and a M 7.7 (prelim USGS Mw) in the Solomons (I will post about this later).

    Here is an update. For more background on the regional tectonics and the initial Earthquake Report, head here.

    • Here are the USGS websites for the main shock and larger aftershocks
    • 2016.12.08 14:47 UTC M 6.5
    • 2016.12.08 16:24 UTC M 2.4
    • 2016.12.08 16:32 UTC M 4.7
    • 2016.12.08 18:08 UTC M 2.9
    • and an earthquake that I will mention below
    • 2016.12.08 18:33 UTC M 4.3

    There was an earthquake to the east on 2016.12.05. This M 4.3 seems to have occurred on a segment of the Mendocino fault. Here is my Earthquake Report for that earthquake. The M 4.3 was not a foreshock to the M 6.5 and probably did not affect the fault in that region.

    UPDATE: 13:15 PST: figure notes:

    • I have prepared an updated map. I include some inset figures. I will update this report shortly as I need to get to my class to admin a final.
    • I include the USGS “Did You Feel It?” report maps for these two earthquakes on the right side of the map. I also include screen shots of the attenuation plots (these show how the ground motions diminish with distance from the earthquake).
    • In the upper left corner I include the first figure from Rollins and Stein (2010). In their paper they evaluate (as stated in the title), “Coulomb stress interactions among M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes in the Gorda deformation zone and on the Mendocino Fault Zone, Cascadia subduction zone, and northern San Andreas Fault.” In this figure they present the major earthquakes in this region from 1976-2010. We have had several large earthquakes since this paper was published, but they behaved very similarly to the ones discussed in this paper. Note the location of teh 1994 Mendocino fault earthquake. Today’s M 6.5 happened in a region very close to the 1994 earthquake (albeit further offshore than the ’94 quake).
    • In the lower left corner is a figure where Rollins and Stein (2010) show their modeling results for the 1994 earthquake. The colors represent changes in static stress imparted upon faults/crust from rupture on the Mendocino fault in 1994. The 1994 earthquake was significantly larger than today’s M 6.5 (e.g. an M 7.0 is 32 releases ~32 times more energy than an M 6.0), so the static stress changes from today’s earthquakes could be assumed to be less than from the ’94 earthquake. Red designates faults/crust with an increased stress and blue designates a decreased stress. The left panel shows the model results when they generate bilateral rupture (the earthquake starts in one location and slips on either side of the fault) and the right panel shows the model results from unilateral rupture (the fault nucleates at one spot, but instead, slips to only one side of the fault). Note that the increased stresses extend about 1/4 to 1/2 a degree of longitude. This equates to about 15 to 30 miles or 28 to 56 km. The CSZ and SAF are at a much further distance than this, so would not “feel” this earthquake. However, there could be dynamic changes in stress (dynamic triggering), but they would be small and would not last very long (basically the time that the seismic waves are traveling through an area). SO, the fact that we have not had any earthquakes in these other regions suggests that the threat of dynamic triggering are over.

    Below I plot the seismicity from the past week, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I use the USGS Quaternary fault and fold database for the faults.

    I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map for the two earthquakes. Note how these MMI contours are quite different between the two earthquakes.

    These contours are based upon the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.

    I also include a figure from Rollins and Stein (2010). This figure shows how the 1994 earthquake (similar to today’s M 6.5) imparted stresses on the adjacent faults and crust.


    • UPDATE: I added a version of the Rollins and Stein (2010) figure of the regional earthquakes. I include their figure caption as blockquote below.

    • Tectonic configuration of the Gorda deformation zone and locations and source models for 1976–2010 M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes. Letters designate chronological order of earthquakes (Table 1 and Appendix A). Plate motion vectors relative to the Pacific Plate (gray arrows in main diagram) are from Wilson [1989], with Cande and Kent’s [1995] timescale correction.

    • Here is the Rollins and Stein (2010) figure that is in the report above. I include their figure caption as blockquote below.

    • Coulomb stress changes imparted by our models of (a) a bilateral rupture and (b) a unilateral eastward rupture for the 1994 Mw = 7.0 Mendocino Fault Zone earthquake to the epicenters of the 1995 Mw = 6.6 southern Gorda zone earthquake (N) and the 2000 Mw = 5.9 Mendocino Fault Zone earthquake (O). Calculation depth is 5 km.

    UPDATE 13:15 PST: Notes about the seismicity from the past month or so.

    Here is something that I thought was interesting about this series of earthquakes in the past week or so. There were a couple earthquakes along the Blanco fracture zone that are too distant to impart changes in static stress on the CSZ, MF, or SAF (though people always want to seek relations where there are none). There was also a M 4.3 earthquake at the mouth of the Mattole River, near Petrolia. This is also a very very small earthquake that does not implicate other fault zones. However, following the M 6.5 today, there was an aftershock (at least 2) near the M 4.3. SO, I thought that perhaps these happened in a region that had seen an increase in static coulomb stress following the M 4.3. They are very close to the M 4.3. So, it seems reasonable that they were ready to go when the M 6.5 happened.

      References

    • Atwater, B.F., Musumi-Rokkaku, S., Satake, K., Tsuju, Y., Eueda, K., and Yamaguchi, D.K., 2005. The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America, USGS Professional Paper 1707, USGS, Reston, VA, 144 pp.
    • Chaytor, J.D., Goldfinger, C., Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G., 2004. Active deformation of the Gorda plate: Constraining deformation models with new geophysical data: Geology v. 32, p. 353-356.
    • Dengler, L.A., Moley, K.M., McPherson, R.C., Pasyanos, M., Dewey, J.W., and Murray, M., 1995. The September 1, 1994 Mendocino Fault Earthquake, California Geology, Marc/April 1995, p. 43-53.
    • Geist, E.L. and Andrews D.J., 2000. Slip rates on San Francisco Bay area faults from anelastic deformation of the continental lithosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 105, no. B11, p. 25,543-25,552.
    • Irwin, W.P., 1990. Quaternary deformation, in Wallace, R.E. (ed.), 1990, The San Andreas Fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, online at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1990/1515/
    • McLaughlin, R.J., Sarna-Wojcicki, A.M., Wagner, D.L., Fleck, R.J., Langenheim, V.E., Jachens, R.C., Clahan, K., and Allen, J.R., 2012. Evolution of the Rodgers Creek–Maacama right-lateral fault system and associated basins east of the northward-migrating Mendocino Triple Junction, northern California in Geosphere, v. 8, no. 2., p. 342-373.
    • Nelson, A.R., Asquith, A.C., and Grant, W.C., 2004. Great Earthquakes and Tsunamis of the Past 2000 Years at the Salmon River Estuary, Central Oregon Coast, USA: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 94, No. 4, pp. 1276–1292
    • Rollins, J.C. and Stein, R.S., 2010. Coulomb stress interactions among M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes in the Gorda deformation zone and on the Mendocino Fault Zone, Cascadia subduction zone, and northern San Andreas Fault: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 115, B12306, doi:10.1029/2009JB007117, 2010.
    • Stoffer, P.W., 2006, Where’s the San Andreas Fault? A guidebook to tracing the fault on public lands in the San Francisco Bay region: U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication 16, 123 p., online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2006/16/
    • Wallace, Robert E., ed., 1990, The San Andreas fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, 283 p. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1988/1434/].

    Earthquake Report: Mendocino fault!

    I was awake and just logging into my laptop, still in bed, when I first felt some movement. The movement was slight and not impulsive, so I thought it was a small earthquake. Then the shaking reappeared. This is when I started counting. one one-thousand, two one-thousand…. twenty one-thousand. The S-Wave lasted about 20 seconds. I thought back to the 2010 earthquake that lasted about that long and it was a M 6.5 earthquake. SO, I immediately thought this was probably a mid M 6 earthquake. However, the shaking was subdued. So, it could be a larger earthquake further away. I logged into social media and people were already contacting me. A friend felt it shake for 2 minutes in southern Oregon (so I thought it might be a large earthquake on the Blanco fracture zone, especially since there were a couple up there recently).

    UPDATE: Here is my Earthquake Report Update #1

    I checked the USGS website here and saw that it was closer to me (Manila, CA), along the Mendocino fault. At first it was a M 6.8, but the location and magnitude changed to an M 6.5.

    This earthquake appears to have occurred along the Mendocino fault, a right-lateral (dextral) transform plate boundary. This plate boundary connects the Gorda ridge and Juan de Fuca rise spreading centers with their counterparts in the Gulf of California, with the San Andreas strike-slip fault system. Transform plate boundaries are defined that they are strike-slip and that they connect spreading ridges. In this sense of the definition, the Mendocino fault and the San Andreas fault are part of the same system. This earthquake appears to have occurred in a region of the Mendocino fault that ruptured in 1994. See the figures from Rollins and Stein below. More on earthquakes in this region can be found in Earthquake Reports listed at the bottom of this page above the appendices.

    The San Andreas fault is a right-lateral strike-slip transform plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates. The plate boundary is composed of faults that are parallel to sub-parallel to the SAF and extend from the west coast of CA to the Wasatch fault (WF) system in central Utah (the WF runs through Salt Lake City and is expressed by the mountain range on the east side of the basin that Salt Lake City is built within).

    The three main faults in the region north of San Francisco are the SAF, the MF, and the Bartlett Springs fault (BSF). I also place a graphical depiction of the USGS moment tensor for this earthquake. The SAF, MF, and BSF are all right lateral strike-slip fault systems. There are no active faults mapped in the region of Sunday’s epicenter, but I interpret this earthquake to have right-lateral slip. Without more seismicity or mapped faults to suggest otherwise, this is a reasonable interpretation.

    The Cascadia subduction zone is a convergent plate boundary where the Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates subduct norteastwardly beneath the North America plate at rates ranging from 29- to 45-mm/yr. The Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates are formed at the Juan de Fuca Ridge and Gorda Rise spreading centers respectively. More about the CSZ can be found here.

    Below I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I use the USGS Quaternary fault and fold database for the faults.

    I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.

    This is a preliminary report and I hope to prepare some updates as I collect more information.

      I have placed several inset figures.

    • In the upper right corner is a map of the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) and regional tectonic plate boundary faults. This is modified from several sources (Chaytor et al., 2004; Nelson et al., 2004)
    • Below the CSZ map is an illustration modified from Plafker (1972). This figure shows how a subduction zone deforms between (interseismic) and during (coseismic) earthquakes. Today’s earthquake did not occur along the CSZ, so did not produce crustal deformation like this. However, it is useful to know this when studying the CSZ.
    • To the left of the CSZ map is the USGS Did You Feel It felt report map. This map is based upon reports submitted by real people. Note how the felt reports extend beyond the modeled estimates of MMI shaking as represented by the MMI contours on the map.
    • In the lower left corner is a figure from Dengler et al. (1995) that shows focal mechanisms from earthquakes in this region, along the Mendocino fault. Today’s earthquake is near the 1994 earthquake.
    • To the right of the Dengler et al. (1995) figure, I present a photo I took of the seismograph observed in Van Matre Hall on the Humboldt State University campus. This seismograph is operated by the HSU Department of Geology.
    • In the upper left corner is a figure from Rollins and Stein (2010). In their paper they discuss how static coulomb stress changes from earthquakes may impart (or remove) stress from adjacent crust/faults.


    • Here is a map from Rollins and Stein, showing their interpretations of different historic earthquakes in the region. This was published in response to the January 2010 Gorda plate earthquake. The faults are from Chaytor et al. (2004). The 1980, 1992, 1994, 2005, and 2010 earthquakes are plotted and labeled. I did not mention the 2010 earthquake, but it most likely was just like 1980 and 2005, a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake on a northeast striking fault.

    • Here is a large scale map of the 1994 earthquake swarm. The mainshock epicenter is a black star and epicenters are denoted as white circles.

    • Here is a plot of focal mechanisms from the Dengler et al. (1995) paper in California Geology.

    • In this map below, I label a number of other significant earthquakes in this Mendocino triple junction region. Another historic right-lateral earthquake on the Mendocino fault system was in 1994. There was a series of earthquakes possibly along the easternmost section of the Mendocino fault system in late January 2015, here is my post about that earthquake series.


      References

    • Atwater, B.F., Musumi-Rokkaku, S., Satake, K., Tsuju, Y., Eueda, K., and Yamaguchi, D.K., 2005. The Orphan Tsunami of 1700—Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America, USGS Professional Paper 1707, USGS, Reston, VA, 144 pp.
    • Chaytor, J.D., Goldfinger, C., Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G., 2004. Active deformation of the Gorda plate: Constraining deformation models with new geophysical data: Geology v. 32, p. 353-356.
    • Dengler, L.A., Moley, K.M., McPherson, R.C., Pasyanos, M., Dewey, J.W., and Murray, M., 1995. The September 1, 1994 Mendocino Fault Earthquake, California Geology, Marc/April 1995, p. 43-53.
    • Geist, E.L. and Andrews D.J., 2000. Slip rates on San Francisco Bay area faults from anelastic deformation of the continental lithosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 105, no. B11, p. 25,543-25,552.
    • Irwin, W.P., 1990. Quaternary deformation, in Wallace, R.E. (ed.), 1990, The San Andreas Fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, online at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1990/1515/
    • McLaughlin, R.J., Sarna-Wojcicki, A.M., Wagner, D.L., Fleck, R.J., Langenheim, V.E., Jachens, R.C., Clahan, K., and Allen, J.R., 2012. Evolution of the Rodgers Creek–Maacama right-lateral fault system and associated basins east of the northward-migrating Mendocino Triple Junction, northern California in Geosphere, v. 8, no. 2., p. 342-373.
    • Nelson, A.R., Asquith, A.C., and Grant, W.C., 2004. Great Earthquakes and Tsunamis of the Past 2000 Years at the Salmon River Estuary, Central Oregon Coast, USA: Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 94, No. 4, pp. 1276–1292
    • Rollins, J.C. and Stein, R.S., 2010. Coulomb stress interactions among M ≥ 5.9 earthquakes in the Gorda deformation zone and on the Mendocino Fault Zone, Cascadia subduction zone, and northern San Andreas Fault: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 115, B12306, doi:10.1029/2009JB007117, 2010.
    • Stoffer, P.W., 2006, Where’s the San Andreas Fault? A guidebook to tracing the fault on public lands in the San Francisco Bay region: U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication 16, 123 p., online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2006/16/
    • Wallace, Robert E., ed., 1990, The San Andreas fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, 283 p. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1988/1434/].

    Earthquake Report: Petrolia (CA)

    This morning there was a good shaker that was widely felt across the region. I did not feel it. I was probably driving at the time, or grading papers, which can have the same sense-deadening effect. Here is the USGS website for this M 4.3 earthquake. The earthquake occurred in an interesting part of the world, in the region of the Mendocino triple junction (MTJ) where the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ), the San Andreas fault (SAF), and the Mendocino fault (MF) congregate. I was going to write the word “meet,” but I am not convinced that these plate boundary faults actually meet.

    This earthquake appears to have occurred along the Mendocino fault, a right-lateral (dextral) transform plate boundary. This plate boundary connects the Gorda ridge and Juan de Fuca rise spreading centers with their counterparts in the Gulf of California, with the San Andreas strike-slip fault system. Transform plate boundaries are defined that they are strike-slip and that they connect spreading ridges. In this sense of the definition, the Mendocino fault and the San Andreas fault are part of the same system. This earthquake appears to have occurred in a region of the Mendocino fault that ruptured in 1994. See the figures from Rollins and Stein below. More on earthquakes in this region can be found in Earthquake Reports listed at the bottom of this page above the appendices.

    The San Andreas fault is a right-lateral strike-slip transform plate boundary between the Pacific and North America plates. The plate boundary is composed of faults that are parallel to sub-parallel to the SAF and extend from the west coast of CA to the Wasatch fault (WF) system in central Utah (the WF runs through Salt Lake City and is expressed by the mountain range on the east side of the basin that Salt Lake City is built within).

    The three main faults in the region north of San Francisco are the SAF, the MF, and the Bartlett Springs fault (BSF). I also place a graphical depiction of the USGS moment tensor for this earthquake. The SAF, MF, and BSF are all right lateral strike-slip fault systems. There are no active faults mapped in the region of Sunday’s epicenter, but I interpret this earthquake to have right-lateral slip. Without more seismicity or mapped faults to suggest otherwise, this is a reasonable interpretation.

    The Cascadia subduction zone is a convergent plate boundary where the Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates subduct norteastwardly beneath the North America plate at rates ranging from 29- to 45-mm/yr. The Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates are formed at the Juan de Fuca Ridge and Gorda Rise spreading centers respectively. More about the CSZ can be found here.

    Below I plot the seismicity from the past month, with color representing depth and diameter representing magnitude (see legend). I use the USGS Quaternary fault and fold database for the faults.

    I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely. There are two focal mechanisms for this earthquake and I include both of them on the interpretive poster below. Based on the moment tensor and my knowledge of the tectonics of this region and using the v. 2 focal mechanism, I interpret this earthquake to have had a right lateral strike slip motion along an east-west fault. However, it is equally likely that this was a northeast striking thrust fault earthquake as suggested by the v. 1 focal mechanism.

      I have placed several inset figures.

    • In the upper right corner is a map of the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ) and regional tectonic plate boundary faults. This is modified from several sources (Chaytor et al., 2004; Nelson et al., 2004)
    • Below the CSZ map is an illustration modified from Plafker (1972). This figure shows how a subduction zone deforms between (interseismic) and during (coseismic) earthquakes. Today’s earthquake did not occur along the CSZ, so did not produce crustal deformation like this. However, it is useful to know this when studying the CSZ.
    • To the left of the CSZ map is the USGS Did You Feel It felt report map. This map is based upon reports submitted by real people. Note how the felt reports extend beyond the modeled estimates of MMI shaking as represented by the MMI contours on the map.
    • In the lower left corner is a USGS figure that shows the evolution of these plate boundary systems.
    • Above the USGS figure is a map that shows more details about the evolution of the MTJ region for the last 12 Ma (million years). This is from a paper by McLaughlin et al. (2012).


    • Here is a map from Rollins and Stein, showing their interpretations of different historic earthquakes in the region. This was published in response to the January 2010 Gorda plate earthquake. The faults are from Chaytor et al. (2004). The 1980, 1992, 1994, 2005, and 2010 earthquakes are plotted and labeled. I did not mention the 2010 earthquake, but it most likely was just like 1980 and 2005, a left-lateral strike-slip earthquake on a northeast striking fault.

    • Here is a large scale map of the 1983 earthquake swarm. The mainshock epicenter is a black star and epicenters are denoted as white circles. Note how the aftershocks trend slightly southeast in this region. Today’s swarm does the same (and the moment tensor also shows a slightly southeast strike). Note how the interpreted fault dips slightly to the north, which is the result of north-south compression from the relative northward motion of the Pacific plate.

    • Here is a large scale map of the 1994 earthquake swarm. The mainshock epicenter is a black star and epicenters are denoted as white circles.

    • Here is a plot of focal mechanisms from the Dengler et al. (1995) paper in California Geology.

    • In this map below, I label a number of other significant earthquakes in this Mendocino triple junction region. Another historic right-lateral earthquake on the Mendocino fault system was in 1994. There was a series of earthquakes possibly along the easternmost section of the Mendocino fault system in late January 2015, here is my post about that earthquake series.

    • The Gorda and Juan de Fuca plates subduct beneath the North America plate to form the Cascadia subduction zone fault system. In 1992 there was a swarm of earthquakes with the magnitude Mw 7.2 Mainshock on 4/25. Initially this earthquake was interpreted to have been on the Cascadia subduction zone (CSZ). The moment tensor shows a compressional mechanism. However the two largest aftershocks on 4/26/1992 (Mw 6.5 and Mw 6.7), had strike-slip moment tensors. These two aftershocks align on what may be the eastern extension of the Mendocino fault.
    • There have been several series of intra-plate earthquakes in the Gorda plate. Two main shocks that I plot of this type of earthquake are the 1980 (Mw 7.2) and 2005 (Mw 7.2) earthquakes. I place orange lines approximately where the faults are that ruptured in 1980 and 2005. These are also plotted in the Rollins and Stein (2010) figure above. The Gorda plate is being deformed due to compression between the Pacific plate to the south and the Juan de Fuca plate to the north. Due to this north-south compression, the plate is deforming internally so that normal faults that formed at the spreading center (the Gorda Rise) are reactivated as left-lateral strike-slip faults. In 2014, there was another swarm of left-lateral earthquakes in the Gorda plate. I posted some material about the Gorda plate setting on this page.
    • There are three types of earthquakes, strike-slip, compressional (reverse or thrust, depending upon the dip of the fault), and extensional (normal). Here is are some animations of these three types of earthquake faults. Many of the earthquakes people are familiar with in the Mendocino triple junction region are either compressional or strike slip. The following three animations are from IRIS.
    • Strike Slip:

      Compressional:

      Extensional:

    • This figure shows what a transform plate boundary fault is. Looking down from outer space, the crust on either side of the fault moves side-by-side. When one is standing on the ground, on one side of the fault, looking across the fault as it moves… If the crust on the other side of the fault moves to the right, the fault is a “right lateral” strike slip fault. The Mendocino and San Andreas faults are right-lateral (dextral) strike-slip faults. I believe this is from Pearson Higher Ed.

    • Here is a map from McLaughlin et al. (2012) that shows the regional faulting. I include the figure caption as a blockquote below.

    • Maps showing the regional setting of the Rodgers Creek–Maacama fault system and the San Andreas fault in northern California. (A) The Maacama (MAFZ) and Rodgers Creek (RCFZ) fault zones and related faults (dark red) are compared to the San Andreas fault, former and present positions of the Mendocino Fracture Zone (MFZ; light red, offshore), and other structural features of northern California. Other faults east of the San Andreas fault that are part of the wide transform margin are collectively referred to as the East Bay fault system and include the Hayward and proto-Hayward fault zones (green) and the Calaveras (CF), Bartlett Springs, and several other faults (teal). Fold axes (dark blue) delineate features associated with compression along the northern and eastern sides of the Coast Ranges. Dashed brown line marks inferred location of the buried tip of an east-directed tectonic wedge system along the boundary between the Coast Ranges and Great Valley (Wentworth et al., 1984; Wentworth and Zoback, 1990). Dotted purple line shows the underthrust south edge of the Gorda–Juan de Fuca plate, based on gravity and aeromagnetic data (Jachens and Griscom, 1983). Late Cenozoic volcanic rocks are shown in pink; structural basins associated with strike-slip faulting and Sacramento Valley are shown in yellow. Motions of major fault blocks and plates relative to fi xed North America, from global positioning system and paleomagnetic studies (Argus and Gordon, 2001; Wells and Simpson, 2001; U.S. Geological Survey, 2010), shown with thick black arrows; circled numbers denote rate (in mm/yr). Restraining bend segment of the northern San Andreas fault is shown in orange; releasing bend segment is in light blue. Additional abbreviations: BMV—Burdell Mountain Volcanics; QSV—Quien Sabe Volcanics. (B) Simplifi ed map of color-coded faults in A, delineating the principal fault systems and zones referred to in this paper.

    • Here is the figure showing the evolution of the SAF since its inception about 29 Ma. I include the USGS figure caption below as a blockquote.

    • EVOLUTION OF THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT.

      This series of block diagrams shows how the subduction zone along the west coast of North America transformed into the San Andreas Fault from 30 million years ago to the present. Starting at 30 million years ago, the westward- moving North American Plate began to override the spreading ridge between the Farallon Plate and the Pacific Plate. This action divided the Farallon Plate into two smaller plates, the northern Juan de Fuca Plate (JdFP) and the southern Cocos Plate (CP). By 20 million years ago, two triple junctions began to migrate north and south along the western margin of the West Coast. (Triple junctions are intersections between three tectonic plates; shown as red triangles in the diagrams.) The change in plate configuration as the North American Plate began to encounter the Pacific Plate resulted in the formation of the San Andreas Fault. The northern Mendicino Triple Junction (M) migrated through the San Francisco Bay region roughly 12 to 5 million years ago and is presently located off the coast of northern California, roughly midway between San Francisco (SF) and Seattle (S). The Mendicino Triple Junction represents the intersection of the North American, Pacific, and Juan de Fuca Plates. The southern Rivera Triple Junction (R) is presently located in the Pacific Ocean between Baja California (BC) and Manzanillo, Mexico (MZ). Evidence of the migration of the Mendicino Triple Junction northward through the San Francisco Bay region is preserved as a series of volcanic centers that grow progressively younger toward the north. Volcanic rocks in the Hollister region are roughly 12 million years old whereas the volcanic rocks in the Sonoma-Clear Lake region north of San Francisco Bay range from only few million to as little as 10,000 years old. Both of these volcanic areas and older volcanic rocks in the region are offset by the modern regional fault system. (Image modified after original illustration by Irwin, 1990 and Stoffer, 2006.)

      • Here is a map that shows the shaking potential for earthquakes in CA. This comes from the state of California here.
      • Earthquake shaking hazards are calculated by projecting earthquake rates based on earthquake history and fault slip rates, the same data used for calculating earthquake probabilities. New fault parameters have been developed for these calculations and are included in the report of the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities. Calculations of earthquake shaking hazard for California are part of a cooperative project between USGS and CGS, and are part of the National Seismic Hazard Maps. CGS Map Sheet 48 (revised 2008) shows potential seismic shaking based on National Seismic Hazard Map calculations plus amplification of seismic shaking due to the near surface soils.



        References

      • Geist, E.L. and Andrews D.J., 2000. Slip rates on San Francisco Bay area faults from anelastic deformation of the continental lithosphere, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 105, no. B11, p. 25,543-25,552.
      • Irwin, W.P., 1990. Quaternary deformation, in Wallace, R.E. (ed.), 1990, The San Andreas Fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, online at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1990/1515/
      • McLaughlin, R.J., Sarna-Wojcicki, A.M., Wagner, D.L., Fleck, R.J., Langenheim, V.E., Jachens, R.C., Clahan, K., and Allen, J.R., 2012. Evolution of the Rodgers Creek–Maacama right-lateral fault system and associated basins east of the northward-migrating Mendocino Triple Junction, northern California in Geosphere, v. 8, no. 2., p. 342-373.
      • Stoffer, P.W., 2006, Where’s the San Andreas Fault? A guidebook to tracing the fault on public lands in the San Francisco Bay region: U.S. Geological Survey General Interest Publication 16, 123 p., online at http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/2006/16/
      • Wallace, Robert E., ed., 1990, The San Andreas fault system, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1515, 283 p. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1988/1434/].

    Earthquake Report: Japan!

    While I was returning from my research cruise offshore of New Zealand, there was an earthquake offshore of Japan in the region of the 2011.01.11 M 9.0 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake. Japan is one of the most seismically active regions on Earth. Below is a series of earthquake reports for the region of Japan. Here is the USGS website for this M 6.9 earthquake.

    Here is my interpretive poster for the extensional earthquake that is in the upper North America plate. This earthquake has a shallow depth and produced a small tsunami run-up. I include two versions: (1) the first one has seismicity from the past 30 days and (2) the second one includes earthquakes with magnitudes M ≥ 5.5. The second map is useful to view the aftershock region of the 2011.03.11 M 9.0 earthquake. The M 9.0 Tohoku-Oki Earthquake was a subduction zone earthquake, while this M 6.9 earthquake is a shallow depth extensional earthquake. I label the location of the 1944 Tonanki and 1946 Nankai subduction zone earthquakes (both M 8.1). These earthquakes spawned decades of research that continues until this day. I discuss the recurrence of earthquakes in this region of Japan in my earthquake report here.

    I also include the shaking intensity contours on the map. These use the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (MMI; see the legend on the map). This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations. The MMI is a qualitative measure of shaking intensity. More on the MMI scale can be found here and here. This is based upon a computer model estimate of ground motions, different from the “Did You Feel It?” estimate of ground motions that is actually based on real observations.

    I placed a moment tensor / focal mechanism legend on the poster. There is more material from the USGS web sites about moment tensors and focal mechanisms (the beach ball symbols). Both moment tensors and focal mechanisms are solutions to seismologic data that reveal two possible interpretations for fault orientation and sense of motion. One must use other information, like the regional tectonics, to interpret which of the two possibilities is more likely.

    I include the slab contours plotted (Hayes et al., 2012), which are contours that represent the depth to the subduction zone fault. These are mostly based upon seismicity. The depths of the earthquakes have considerable error and do not all occur along the subduction zone faults, so these slab contours are simply the best estimate for the location of the fault. The hypocentral depth plots this close to the location of the fault as mapped by Hayes et al. (2012). So, the earthquake is either in the downgoing slab, or in the upper plate and a result of the seismogenic locked plate transferring the shear strain from a fracture zone in the downgoing plate to the upper plate.

      Inset Figures

      I include some inset figures. Here is some information about them. Below I include the original figures with the figure captions as blockquotes.

    • In the upper right corner is a map showing the tectonics of the region (Kurikami et al., 2009). I include this map below.
    • In the lower right corner is a figure from the USGS that shows seismicity along the subduction zone that forms the Japan trench.
    • To the left of the cross section shows a low angle oblique view of the plate configuration in this region (from AGU).
    • In the upper left corner is a comparison of the USGS “Did You Feel It?” report maps. The map on the right is from the M 9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake and the map on the left is from this M 6.9 earthquake.



    • Here is the upper figure showing the tectonic setting (Kurikami et al., 2009). I include their figure caption as a blockquote.

    • Active faults in southwest Japan from the Active Fault Research Centre’s active fault database (http://www.aist.go.jp/RIODB/activefault/cgi-bin/index.cgi). The faults are color coded by sense of movement (green = dextral; blue = normal, red = reverse, yellow = sinistral).

    • Here is another figure showing the tectonic setting (Kurikami et al., 2009). I include their figure caption as a blockquote.

    • Current tectonic situation of Japan and key tectonic features.

    • The upper slope of the accretionary prism for this part of the subduction zone that forms the Japan trench has well developed normal faults. Tsuji et al. (2013) present seismic reflection profiles that for this region. I present their figure and include their figure citation below as a blockquote. The first figure is a map showing the locations of the cross sections and the locations of sites with direct observations of sea floor surface displacements (surface ruptures).

    • Index maps for the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake in the Japan Trench (JCG, JAMSTEC, 2011). (a) Blue and white contour lines are subsidence and uplift, respectively, estimated from tsunami inversion (Fujii et al., 2011), with contour intervals of 0.5 m (subsidence) and 1.0 m (uplift).Blue arrows indicate dynamic seafloor displacements observed at seafloor observatories (Kido et al., 2011; Sato et al., 2011). Red lines are locations of seismic profiles (SR101, MY101, and MY102) shown in Fig. 2. Stars indicate diving sites and are labeled with dive numbers of pre-earthquake observations (blue numerals) and post-earthquake observations in 2011 (red numerals) and in 2012 (orange numerals). Background heatflow values measured before the 2011 earthquake are displayed as colored dots (Yamano et al.,2008; Kimura et al., 2012). (b) Enlarged map around the diving sites, corresponding to the yellow rectangle in panel (a). Red dashed lines indicate seafloor traces of normal faults (i.e.,ridge structures). Yellow dashed lines indicate estimated locations of the backstop interface. The white dashed line indicates the boundary of the area of significant seafloor uplift (49 m uplift)and also the tsunami generation area (Fujii et al., 011), corresponding to the reddish-brown area in panel (a). Observations made during the post-earthquake dives are described in panel(b).


      Reflection seismic profiles obtained in the central part of tsunami source area(line MY102 in panels f–h), at its northern edge (line MY101 in panels c–e), and its outside (line SR101 in panels a,b). Original profiles of (a) line SR101, (c) line MY101, and (f) line MY102. Composite seismic reflection profiles with geological interpretations of(b) line SR101,(d) line MY101, and (g) line MY102 (Tsuji et al.,2011). Red arrows in panel (d) and (g) indicate seafloor displacements (Ito et al.,2011; Kido et al.,2011; Sato et al.,2011). Enlarged profiles around (e) Site 2W on line MY101, and (h) Site 3W on line MY102.

    • Here is a figure from Tsuji et al. (2013) that shows some images of the seafloor. These show views of ruptured sea floor.

    • (a) Diving tracks on seafloor bathymetry at Site 2W. Stars indicate locations of seafloor photographs displayed in panels (b)–(f). (b) Photograph of an open fissure representative of those commonly observed after the earthquake. (d) An open fissure was observed during post-earthquake observations where (c) no fissure had been before the earthquake.(g,h) Photographs taken in (g) 2011 and (h) 2012 showing the heat flow measurements being made at the same location by SAHF probe.


      (a) Diving tracks on seafloor bathymetry at Site 1E. The white dashed line indicates the location of the interpreted fault. Stars indicate locations of seafloor images displayed in panels(b)–(f).(b) Photograph of an open fissure representative of those commonly observed after the earthquake. (d) Open fissure seen during post-earthquake observations where (c) a clam colony (1 m wide) was observed before the earthquake. (e,f) Photographs taken in (e) 2011 and (f) 2012,showing the heatflow measurements at the same location by SAHF probe. (g) Dive track on seafloor bathymetry at Site 3E. The star indicates the location of (h) a seafloor photograph showing a steep cliff.

    • Here is an explanation for the extension generated during the 2011 earthquake.

    • Schematic images of coseismic fault ruptures and the tsunami generation model (a) at the northern edge (and outside) and (b) in the central part of the tsunami source area. Soft slope sediments covering the continental crust are not shown in these images. (a) Collapse of the continental framework occurred mainly at the backstop interface north of the large tsunami source area. (b) Anelastic deformation around the normal fault allowed large extension of the overriding plate in the tsunami source area.

    • These are some observations posted by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.