The Parkfield prediction experiment
The San Andreas fault is part of the boundary between the Pacific and North American crustal plates. In California, movements of about 3 centimeters per year are currently taking place along the fault, although plat tectonic models suggest a faster rate of 5 cm/yr may be the average over a longer period of time and a broader area.
There are two distinct ways in which movement on the San Andreas occurs. Along most of the fault, slip occurs during infrequent great earthquakes. Examples of these in historic time are the 1857 Fort Tejon and the 1906 San Francisco events. Along these portions of the fault, it appears that, during most of the intervening period between great earthquakes, no slip and few microearthquakes occurred. Strain appears to accumulate at shallow depths in a narrow (50 kilometer) zone adjacent to the fault.
Along a 200-km stretch in central California, however, continuous slip occurs with no observable accumulation of strain. Although there is a high level of microseismicity here, earthquakes larger than magnitude (M) 6 are unknown, and most of the slip occurs aseismically. (Several articles in the Earthquake Information Bulletin in 1978 have covered this topic.)
At the northern end of this creeping zone, the microseismicity and the slip gradually taper to zero over a distance of about 100 km. This segment is the site of frequent earthquakes (every 5-10 years) having magnitudes of 5.5 and less. At the southern end, near the town of Parkfield, the transition occurs in about 40km. This zone is the site of recurring earthquakes of about magnitude 6.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||The Parkfield prediction experiment|
|Series title||Earthquake Information Bulletin (USGS)|
|Publisher||U.S Geological Survey|
|Online Only (Y/N)||N|
|Additional Online Files (Y/N)||N|