At present there is an absence of both fault creep and small earthquakes on the northern San Andreas fault, which had a magnitude 8 earthquake with 5 m of slip in 1906. The fault has apparently been dormant after the 1906 earthquake. One possibility is that the fault is 'locked' in some way and only produces great earthquakes. An alternative possibility, presented here, is that the lack of current activity on the northern San Andreas fault is because of a lack of sufficient elastic strain after the 1906 earthquake. This is indicated by geodetic measurements at Fort Ross in 1874, 1906 (post-earthquake), and 1969, which show that the strain accumulation in 1969 (69 ?? 10-6 engineering strain) was only about one-third of the strain release (rebound) in the 1906 earthquake (200 ?? 10-6 engineering strain). The large difference in seismicity before and after 1906, with many strong local earthquakes from 1836 to 1906, but only a few strong earthquakes from 1906 to 1976, also indicates a difference of elastic strain. The geologic characteristics (serpentine, fault straightness) of most of the northern San Andreas fault are very similar to the characteristics of the fault south of Hollister, where fault creep is occurring. Thus, the current absence of fault creep on the northern fault segment is probably due to a lack of sufficient elastic strain at the present time. ?? 1979.
Additional publication details
Earthquakes and fault creep on the northern San Andreas fault