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Chapter C. The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989 - Preseismic observations

January 1, 1993

The October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta, Calif., Ms=7.1 earthquake provided the first opportunity in the history of fault monitoring in the United States to gather multidisciplinary preearthquake data in the near field of an M=7 earthquake. The data obtained include observations on seismicity, continuous strain, long-term ground displacement, magnetic field, and hydrology. The papers in this chapter describe these data, their implications for fault-failure mechanisms, the scale of prerupture nucleation, and earthquake prediction in general.

Of the 10 papers presented here, about half identify preearthquake anomalies in the data, but some of these results are equivocal. Seismicity in the Loma Prieta region during the 20 years leading up to the earthquake was unremarkable. In retrospect, however, it is apparent that the principal southwest-dipping segment of the subsequent Loma Prieta rupture was virtually aseismic during this period. Two M=5 earthquakes did occur near Lake Elsman near the junction of the Sargent and San Andreas faults within 2.5 and 15 months of, and 10 km to the north of, the Loma Prieta epicenter. Although these earthquakes were not on the subsequent rupture plane of the Loma Prieta earthquake and other M=5 earthquakes occurred in the preceding 25 years, it is now generally accepted that these events were, in some way, foreshocks to the main event.

Publication Year 1993
Title Chapter C. The Loma Prieta, California, Earthquake of October 17, 1989 - Preseismic observations
DOI 10.3133/pp1550C
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Professional Paper
Series Number 1550
Index ID pp1550C
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Hazards Program; Earthquake Science Center