The M = 7.8 1906 San Francisco earthquake cast a stress shadow across the San Andreas fault system, inhibiting other large earthquakes for at least 75 years. The duration of the stress shadow is a key question in San Francisco Bay area seismic hazard assessment. This study presents a three-dimensional (3-D) finite element simulation of post-1906 stress recovery. The model reproduces observed geologic slip rates on major strike-slip faults and produces surface velocity vectors comparable to geodetic measurements. Fault stressing rates calculated with the finite element model are evaluated against numbers calculated using deep dislocation slip. In the finite element model, tectonic stressing is distributed throughout the crust and upper mantle, whereas tectonic stressing calculated with dislocations is focused mostly on faults. In addition, the finite element model incorporates postseismic effects such as deep afterslip and viscoelastic relaxation in the upper mantle. More distributed stressing and postseismic effects in the finite element model lead to lower calculated tectonic stressing rates and longer stress shadow durations (17-74 years compared with 7-54 years). All models considered indicate that the 1906 stress shadow was completely erased by tectonic loading no later than 1980. However, the stress shadow still affects present-day earthquake probability. Use of stressing rate parameters calculated with the finite element model yields a 7-12% reduction in 30-year probability caused by the 1906 stress shadow as compared with calculations not incorporating interactions. The aggregate interaction-based probability on selected segments (not including the ruptured San Andreas fault) is 53-70% versus the noninteraction range of 65-77%.
Additional publication details
Post-1906 stress recovery of the San Andreas fault system calculated from three-dimensional finite element analysis