On near-source earthquake triggering

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By:  and 



When one earthquake triggers others nearby, what connects them? Two processes are observed: static stress change from fault offset and dynamic stress changes from passing seismic waves. In the near-source region (r ??? 50 km for M ??? 5 sources) both processes may be operating, and since both mechanisms are expected to raise earthquake rates, it is difficult to isolate them. We thus compare explosions with earthquakes because only earthquakes cause significant static stress changes. We find that large explosions at the Nevada Test Site do not trigger earthquakes at rates comparable to similar magnitude earthquakes. Surface waves are associated with regional and long-range dynamic triggering, but we note that surface waves with low enough frequency to penetrate to depths where most aftershocks of the 1992 M = 5.7 Little Skull Mountain main shock occurred (???12 km) would not have developed significant amplitude within a 50-km radius. We therefore focus on the best candidate phases to cause local dynamic triggering, direct waves that pass through observed near-source aftershock clusters. We examine these phases, which arrived at the nearest (200-270 km) broadband station before the surface wave train and could thus be isolated for study. Direct comparison of spectral amplitudes of presurface wave arrivals shows that M ??? 5 explosions and earthquakes deliver the same peak dynamic stresses into the near-source crust. We conclude that a static stress change model can readily explain observed aftershock patterns, whereas it is difficult to attribute near-source triggering to a dynamic process because of the dearth of aftershocks near large explosions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title On near-source earthquake triggering
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/2008JB006277
Volume 114
Issue 10
Year Published 2009
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
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