We have determined high-resolution hypocenters for 45,000+ earthquakes that occurred between 1980 and 2000 in the Long Valley caldera area using a double-difference earthquake location algorithm and routinely determined arrival times. The locations reveal numerous discrete fault planes in the southern caldera and adjacent Sierra Nevada block (SNB). Intracaldera faults include a series of east/west-striking right-lateral strike-slip faults beneath the caldera's south moat and a series of more northerly striking strike-slip/normal faults beneath the caldera's resurgent dome. Seismicity in the SNB south of the caldera is confined to a crustal block bounded on the west by an east-dipping oblique normal fault and on the east by the Hilton Creek fault. Two NE-striking left-lateral strike-slip faults are responsible for most seismicity within this block. To understand better the stresses driving seismicity, we performed stress inversions using focal mechanisms with 50 or more first motions. This analysis reveals that the least principal stress direction systematically rotates across the studied region, from NE to SW in the caldera's south moat to WNW-ESE in Round Valley, 25 km to the SE. Because WNW-ESE extension is characteristic of the western boundary of the Basin and Range province, caldera area stresses appear to be locally perturbed. This stress perturbation does not seem to result from magma chamber inflation but may be related to the significant (???20 km) left step in the locus of extension along the Sierra Nevada/Basin and Range province boundary. This implies that regional-scale tectonic processes are driving seismic deformation in the Long Valley caldera.
Additional publication details
Fault structure and kinematics of the Long Valley Caldera region, California, revealed by high-accuracy earthquake hypocenters and focal mechanism stress inversions