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Pore-pressure sensitivities to dynamic strains: observations in active tectonic regions

July 17, 2015

Triggered seismicity arising from dynamic stresses is often explained by the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion, where elevated pore pressures reduce the effective strength of faults in fluid-saturated rock. The seismic response of a fluid-rock system naturally depends on its hydro-mechanical properties, but accurately assessing how pore-fluid pressure responds to applied stress over large scales in situ remains a challenging task; hence, spatial variations in response are not well understood, especially around active faults. Here I analyze previously unutilized records of dynamic strain and pore-pressure from regional and teleseismic earthquakes at Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO) stations from 2006 through 2012 to investigate variations in response along the Pacific/North American tectonic plate boundary. I find robust scaling-response coefficients between excess pore pressure and dynamic strain at each station that are spatially correlated: around the San Andreas and San Jacinto fault systems, the response is lowest in regions of the crust undergoing the highest rates of secular shear strain. PBO stations in the Parkfield instrument cluster are at comparable distances to the San Andreas fault (SAF), and spatial variations there follow patterns in dextral creep rates along the fault, with the highest response in the actively creeping section, which is consistent with a narrowing zone of strain accumulation seen in geodetic velocity profiles. At stations in the San Juan Bautista (SJB) and Anza instrument clusters, the response depends non-linearly on the inverse fault-perpendicular distance, with the response decreasing towards the fault; the SJB cluster is at the northern transition from creeping-to-locked behavior along the SAF, where creep rates are at moderate to low levels, and the Anza cluster is around the San Jacinto fault, where to date there have been no statistically significant creep rates observed at the surface. These results suggest that the strength of the pore pressure response in fluid-saturated rock near active faults is controlled by shear strain accumulation associated with tectonic loading, which implies a strong feedback between fault strength and permeability: dynamic triggering susceptibilities may vary in space and also in time.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Pore-pressure sensitivities to dynamic strains: observations in active tectonic regions
DOI 10.1002/2015JB012201
Authors Andrew J. Barbour
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Index ID 70155511
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center