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Lower seismogenic depth model of western U.S. Earthquakes

October 12, 2022

We present a model of the lower seismogenic depth of earthquakes in the western United States (WUS) estimated using the hypocentral depths of events M > 1, a crustal temperature model, and historical earthquake rupture depth models. Locations of earthquakes are from the Advanced National Seismic System Comprehensive Earthquake Catalog from 1980 to 2021 supplemented with seismicity in southern California for event hypocenters that were relocated by Hauksson et al. (2012) to obtain higher precision and better resolution in the model. We calculated the average depth of the deepest 10% of the merged catalog using an adaptive radius of 50 km or more. Along the San Andreas fault, the deepest seismogenic depths are located at 23 km around the Cholame segment, whereas the shallowest depths are located at about 10 km along the Rodgers Creek and Maacama faults. For the WUS outside California, the depth generally varies between 10 and 25 km with an average around 14 km but could extend to 35 km along Cascadia subduction zone. We find good agreement between the small‐magnitude depths and rupture depths derived from coseismic slip of large earthquakes across the region. Our estimates are generally deeper than the previous seismogenic depths determined for the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 3 model based on work by Petersen et al. (1996) who used seismicity cross sections along major fault zones in California. Our new seismogenic depth distribution correlates closely with crustal temperature derived from WUS heat flow (Blackwell et al., 2011). This correlation allowed us to develop a map of the brittle–ductile transition that we use to replace seismogenic depths in the model east of the Intermountain West Seismic Belt where the seismicity rate is low. This updated depth model is useful for recalibrating the lower geologic fault rupture depths, and constraining deformation and seismicity source models in updates of the U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Model.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2022
Title Lower seismogenic depth model of western U.S. Earthquakes
DOI 10.1785/0220220174
Authors Yuehua Zeng, Mark D. Petersen, Oliver S. Boyd
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Seismological Research Letters
Index ID 70237575
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geologic Hazards Science Center