Stress Drops on the Blanco Oceanic Transform Fault from Interstation Phase Coherence

TitleStress Drops on the Blanco Oceanic Transform Fault from Interstation Phase Coherence
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsWilliams, JR, Hawthorne, JC, Rost, S, Wright, TJ
JournalBulletin of the Seismological Society of America

Oceanic transform faults display a wide range of earthquake stress drops, large aseismic slip, and along‐strike variation in seismic coupling. We use and further develop a phase coherence‐based method to calculate and analyze stress drops of 61 M≥5.0 events between 2000 and 2016 on the Blanco fault, off the coast of Oregon. With this method, we estimate earthquake rupture extents by examining how apparent source time functions (ASTFs) vary between stations. The variation is caused by the generation of seismic waves at different locations along the rupture, which arrive at different times depending on station location. We isolate ASTFs at a range of stations by comparing seismograms of collocated earthquakes and then use the interstation ASTF coherence to infer rupture extent and stress drop.We examine how our analysis is influenced by various factors, including poor trace alignment, relative earthquake locations, focal mechanism variation, azimuthal distribution of stations, and depth phase arrivals. We find that as alignment accuracy decreases or distance between earthquakes increases, coherence is reduced, but coherence is unaffected by focal mechanism variation or depth phase arrivals for our dataset. We calibrate the coherence–rupture extent relationship based on the azimuthal distribution of stations.We find the phase coherence method can be used to estimate stress drops for offshore earthquakes, but is limited to M≥5.0 earthquakes for the Blanco fault due to poor trace alignment accuracy. The median stress drop on the Blanco fault is 8 MPa (with 95% confidence limits of 6–12 MPa) for 61 earthquakes. Stress drops are a factor of 1.7 (95% confidence limits 0.8–3.5) lower on the more aseismic northwest segment of the Blanco fault. These lower stress drops could be linked to reduced healing time due to higher temperatures, which reduce the depth of the seismogenic zone and shorten the seismic cycle.


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