Strain accumulation rates in the western United States between 1970 and 1978

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



The rate of dilatation and the rate and direction of shear have been determined from trilateration data for 23 Geodolite networks in the western United States. Sixteen nets are located along the San Andreas fault system between Point Reyes, California, and the United States‐Mexico border. Other locations are across the Garlock fault in California; across Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington; near Hanford in eastern Washington; near Hebgen Lake in Montana; across the Wasatch fault at Ogden, Utah; across the Rio Grande rift at Socorro, New Mexico; and Dixie Valley in Nevada; and at the northern end of Owens Valley on the California‐Nevada border. Implicit in the treatment are the assumptions that the strain was accumulating at a constant rate over the time period (within the interval 1970–1978) and over the local area (usually about 50‐km diameter) covered by the surveys. Of the nets located away from the San Andreas fault, only Ogden and Hebgen show significant strain accumulation. At Ogden the deformation is principally an east‐west compression of 0.23±0.05 μstrain/yr and at Hebgen Lake a northeast‐southwest extension of 0.17±0.03 μstrain/yr. Along the San Andreas fault system the rate of shear is 0.2 to 0.4μ/yr. The direction of shear agrees very well with the surface strike of nearby faults. This agreement is maintained even in regions like the ‘big bend,’ where both the fault strike and the observed shear direction are more westerly than they are elsewhere. Shear strain in northern California appears to be concentrated more closely on the faults, whereas in southern California the strain is a broader, smoother feature. In the San Francisco Bay area the strain data indicate slip at depth on both the San Andreas and the Calaveras faults. In addition to the observed shear the nets in California indicate a negative dilatation (areal decrease) of about 0.2 μstrain/yr. This dilatation is unexplained, but the following sources appear unlikely: (1) systematic survey error, (2) an association with the southern California uplift, (3) an association with the big bend in the San Andreas fault in Southern California, or (4) the result of the superposition of a uniaxial strain on the Pacific‐North American plate boundary shear.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Strain accumulation rates in the western United States between 1970 and 1978
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/JB084iB10p05423
Volume 84
Issue B10
Year Published 1979
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 13 p.
First page 5423
Last page 5435
Country United States
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