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|Title:||Interseismic strain accumulation and the earthquake potential on the southern San Andreas fault system|
|Affiliation:||AA(Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA)|
|Publication:||Nature, Volume 441, Issue 7096, pp. 968-971 (2006). (Nature Homepage)|
The San Andreas fault in California is a mature continental transform
fault that accommodates a significant fraction of motion between the
North American and Pacific plates. The two most recent great earthquakes
on this fault ruptured its northern and central sections in 1906 and
1857, respectively. The southern section of the fault, however, has not
produced a great earthquake in historic times (for at least 250 years).
Assuming the average slip rate of a few centimetres per year, typical of
the rest of the San Andreas fault, the minimum amount of slip deficit
accrued on the southern section is of the order of 7-10 metres,
comparable to the maximum co-seismic offset ever documented on the
fault. Here I present high-resolution measurements of interseismic
deformation across the southern San Andreas fault system using a
well-populated catalogue of space-borne synthetic aperture radar data.
The data reveal a nearly equal partitioning of deformation between the
southern San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, with a pronounced asymmetry
in strain accumulation with respect to the geologically mapped fault
traces. The observed strain rates confirm that the southern section of
the San Andreas fault may be approaching the end of the interseismic
phase of the earthquake cycle.