The velocity field along the San Andreas Fault in central and southern California

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



The velocity field within a 100‐km‐broad zone centered on the San Andreas fault between the Mexican border and San Francisco Bay has been inferred from repeated surveys of trilateration networks in the 1973–1989 interval. The velocity field has the appearance of a shear flow that remains parallel to the local strike of the fault even through such major deflections as the big bend of the San Andreas fault in the Transverse Ranges of southern California. Across‐strike profiles of the fault‐parallel component of velocity exhibit the expected sigmoidal shape, whereas across‐strike profiles of the fault‐normal component of velocity are flat and featureless. No significant convergence upon the fault is observed even along the big bend sector of the fault. Simple dislocation models can explain most of the features of the observed velocity field, but those explanations are not unique. About 35 mm/yr of relative plate motion is accounted for within the span of the trilateration networks. Geologic studies indicate that the secular slip rate on the San Andreas fault is about 35 mm/yr. The agreement between these two estimates implies that most of the strain accumulation is elastic and will be recovered in subsequent earthquakes. The relative motion observed across the San Andreas fault (35 mm/yr) plus that observed across the Eastern California shear zone (8 mm/yr) accounts for most (43 mm/yr) of the observed North America‐Pacific relative plate motion (47 mm/yr).

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The velocity field along the San Andreas Fault in central and southern California
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/91JB00199
Volume 96
Issue B5
Year Published 1991
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center, Earthquake Science Center
Description 21 p.
First page 8369
Last page 8389
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Andreas fault
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