Two contrasting models of the earthquake deformation cycle on strike slip faults predict significant temporal declines in shear strain rate near the fault, accompanied by a progressive broadening of the zone of deformation adjacent to it. In the thin lithosphere model, transient deformation results from flow in the asthenosphere due to stress relaxation following faulting through most or all of the lithosphere. For an earth model with a thick elastic lithosphere (plate thickness >> depth of seismic slip), transient motions are due to postearthquake aseismic slip below the coseismic fault plane. Data from the San Andreas fault indicate a long-term temporal decrease in strain rate that persists for at least 30 years and may extend through the entire earthquake cycle. Observations support a cycle-long rate decrease and a temporal spreading of the deformation profile only if movement cycles on the northern and southern locked sections of the fault are basically similar. -Author
Additional publication details
Nonlinear strain buildup and the earthquake cycle on the San Andreas fault.