Once assumed locked, we show that the northern third of the Greenville fault (GF) creeps at 2 mm/yr, based on 47 yr of trilateration net data. This northern GF creep rate equals its 11-ka slip rate, suggesting a low strain accumulation rate. In 1980, the GF, easternmost strand of the San Andreas fault system east of San Francisco Bay, produced a Mw5.8 earthquake with a 6-km surface rupture and dextral slip growing to ≥2 cm on cracks over a few weeks. Trilateration shows a 10-cm post-1980 transient slip ending in 1984. Analysis of 2000-2012 crustal velocities on continuous global positioning system stations, allows creep rates of ~2 mm/yr on the northern GF, 0-1 mm/yr on the central GF, and ~0 mm/yr on its southern third. Modeled depth ranges of creep along the GF allow 5-25% aseismic release. Greater locking in the southern two thirds of the GF is consistent with paleoseismic evidence there for large late Holocene ruptures. Because the GF lacks large (>1 km) discontinuities likely to arrest higher (~1 m) slip ruptures, we expect full-length (54-km) ruptures to occur that include the northern creeping zone. We estimate sufficient strain accumulation on the entire GF to produce Mw6.9 earthquakes with a mean recurrence of ~575 yr. While the creeping 16-km northern part has the potential to produce a Mw6.2 event in 240 yr, it may rupture in both moderate (1980) and large events. These two-dimensional-model estimates of creep rate along the southern GF need verification with small aperture surveys.
Additional publication details
The Greenville Fault: preliminary estimates of its long-term creep rate and seismic potential