Changes in rate of fault creep




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Aseismic slip or fault creep is occurring on many faults in California. Although the creep rates are generally less than 10 mm/yr in most regions, the maximum observed rate along the San Andreas fault between San Juan Bautista and Gold Hill in central California exceeds 30 mm/yr. Changes in slip rates along a 162 km segment of the San Andreas fault in this region have occurred at approximately the same time at up to nine alinement array sites. Rates of creep on the fault near the epicenters of moderate earthquakes (ML 4-6) vary for periods of several years, decreasing before the main shocks and increasing thereafter, in agreement with prior observations based on creepmeter results. The change of surface slip rate is most pronounced within the epicentral region defined by aftershocks, but records from sites at distances up to 100 km show similar variations. Additionally, some variations in rate, also apparently consistent among many sites, have a less obvious relation with seismic activity and have usually taken place over shorter periods. Not all sites exhibit a significant variation in rate at the time of a regional change, and the amplitudes of the change at nearby sites are not consistently related. The time intervals between measurements at the nine array sites during a given period have not always been short with respect to the intervals between surveys at one site; hence, uneven sampling intervals may bias the results slightly. Anomalies in creep rates thus far observed, therefore, have not been demonstrably consistent precursors to moderate earthquakes; and in the cases when an earthquake has followed a long period change of rate, the anomaly has not specified time, place, or magnitude with a high degree of certainty. The consistency of rate changes may represent a large scale phenomenon that occurs along much of the San Andreas transform plate boundary. ?? 1979.

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