Knowledge of the temperature variation with depth near the San Andreas fault is vital to understanding the physical processes that occur within the fault zone during earthquakes and creep events. Parkfield is near the southern end of the Coast Ranges segment of the San Andreas fault. This segment has higher mean heat flow than the Cape Mendocino segment to the northwest or the Mojave segment to the southeast. Boreholes were drilled specifically for the U.S. Geological Survey's Parkfield earthquake prediction experiment or converted from other uses at 25 sites within a few kilometers of the fault near Parkfield. These holes, which range in depth from 150 to over 1500 m, were intended mainly for the deployment of volumetric strain meters, water-level recorders, and other downhole instruments. Temperature profiles were obtained from all the holes, and heat flow values were estimated from 17 of them. For a number of reasons, including a paucity of thermal conductivity data and rugged local topography, the accuracy of individual determinations was not sufficiently high to document local variations in heat flow. Values range from 54 to 92 mW m-2, with mean and 95% confidence limits of 74 ?? 4 mW m-2. This mean is slightly lower than the mean (83 ?? 3) of 39 previously published values from the central Coast Ranges, but it is consistent with the overall pattern of elevated heat flow in the Coast Ranges, and it is transitional to the mean of 68 ?? 2 mW m-2 that characterizes the Mojave segment of the San Andreas fault immediately to the south. The lack of a heat flow peak near the fault underscores the absence of a frictional thermal anomaly and provides additional support for a very small resolved shear stress parallel to the San Andreas fault and the nearly fault-normal maximum compressive stress observed in this region. Estimates of subsurface thermal conditions indicate that the seismic-aseismic transition for the Parkfield segment corresponds to temperatures in the range of 350??-400??C. Increasing heat flow to the northwest of Parkfield corresponds to a transition from locked to creeping sections and to a shallowing of the base of seismicity and confirms the importance of temperature in controlling the thickness of the seismogenic crust. Lateral variations in heat flow do not appear to have any major role in determining the regularity of M5.5-6 earthquakes at Parkfield.
Additional publication details
Thermal regime of the San Andreas fault near Parkfield, California