Where the San Andreas fault passes along the southwestern margin of the Mojave desert, it exhibits a large change in trend, and the deformation associated with the Pacific/North American plate boundary is distributed broadly over a complex shear zone. The importance of understanding the partitioning of strain across this region, especially to the east of the Mojave segment of the San Andreas in a region known as the eastern California shear zone (ECSZ), was highlighted by the occurrence (on 28 June 1992) of the magnitude 7.3 Landers earthquake in this zone. Here we use geodetic observations in the central Mojave desert to obtain new estimates for the rate and distribution of strain across a segment of the ECSZ, and to determine a coseismic strain drop of ~770 ??rad for the Landers earthquake. From these results we infer a strain energy recharge time of 3,500-5,000 yr for a Landers-type earthquake and a slip rate of ~12 mm yr-1 across the faults of the central Mojave. The latter estimate implies that a greater fraction of plate motion than heretofore inferred from geodetic data is accommodated across the ECSZ.
Additional publication details
Geodetic slip rate for the eastern California shear zone and the recurrence time of Mojave desert earthquakes