Response of the San Andreas fault to the 1983 Coalinga-Nuñez earthquakes: An application of interaction-based probabilities for Parkfield

Shinji Toda, Ross S. Stein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

150 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Parkfield-Cholame section of the San Andreas fault, site of an unfulfilled earthquake forecast in 1985, is the best monitored section of the world's most closely watched fault. In 1983, the M = 6.5 Coalinga and M = 6.0 Nuñez events struck 25 km northeast of Parkfield. Seismicity rates climbed for 18 months along the creeping section of the San Andreas north of Parkfield and dropped for 6 years along the locked section to the south. Right-lateral creep also slowed or reversed from Parkfield south. Here we calculate that the Coalinga sequence increased the shear and Coulomb stress on the creeping section, causing the rate of small shocks to rise until the added stress was shed by additional slip. However, the 1983 events decreased the shear and Coulomb stress on the Parkfield segment, causing surface creep and seismicity rates to drop. We use these observations to cast the likelihood of a Parkfield earthquake into an interaction-based probability, which includes both the renewal of stress following the 1966 Parkfield earthquake and the stress transfer from the 1983 Coalinga events. We calculate that the 1983 shocks dropped the 10-year probability of a M ∼ 6 Parkfield earthquake by 22% (from 54 ± 22% to 42 ± 23%) and that the probability did not recover until about 1991, when seismicity and creep resumed. Our analysis may thus explain why the Parkfield earthquake did not strike in the 1980s, but not why it was absent in the 1990s. We calculate a 58 ± 17% probability of a M ∼ 6 Parkfield earthquake during 2001-2011.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume107
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Jun 10
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Coalinga earthquake
  • Earthquake probability
  • Parkfield
  • Seismicity rate
  • Stress change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography

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