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Source character of microseismicity in the San Francisco Bay block, California, and implications for seismic hazard

January 1, 1998

We examine relocated seismicity within a 30-km-wide crustal block containing San Francisco Bay and bounded by two major right-lateral strike-slip fault systems, the Hayward and San Andreas faults, to determine seismicity distribution, source character, and possible relationship to proposed faults. Well-located low-level seismicity (Md ??? 3.0) has occurred persistently within this block throughout the recording interval (1969 to 1995), with the highest levels of activity occurring along or directly adjacent to (within ???5 km) the bounding faults and falling off toward the long axis of the bay. The total seismic moment release within the interior of the Bay block since 1969 is equivalent to one ML 3.8 earthquake, one to two orders of magnitude lower than activity along and within 5 km of the bounding faults. Focal depths of reliably located events within the Bay block are generally less than 13 km with most seismicity in the depth range of 7 to 12 km, similar to focal depths along both the adjacent portions of the San Andreas and Hayward faults. Focal mechanisms for Md 2 to 3 events within the Bay block mimic focal mechanisms along the adjacent San Andreas fault zone and in the East Bay, suggesting that Bay block is responding to a similar regional stress field. Two potential seismic source zones have been suggested within the Bay block. Our hypocentral depths and focal mechanisms suggest that a proposed subhorizontal detachment fault 15 to 18 km beneath the Bay is not seismically active. Several large-scale linear NW-trending aeromagnetic anomalies within the Bay block were previously suggested to represent large through-going subvertical fault zones. The two largest earthquakes (both Md 3.0) in the Bay block since 1969 occur near two of these large-scale linear aeromagnetic anomalies; both have subvertical nodal planes with right-lateral slip subparallel to the magnetic anomalies, suggesting that structures related to the anomalies may be capable of brittle failure. Geodetic, focal mechanism and seismicity data all suggest the Bay block is responding elastically to the same regional stresses affecting the bounding faults; however, continuous Holocene reflectors across the proposed fault zones suggest that if the magnetic anomalies represent basement fault zones, then these faults must have recurrence times one to several orders of magnitude longer than on the bounding faults.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1998
Title Source character of microseismicity in the San Francisco Bay block, California, and implications for seismic hazard
Authors J.A. Olson, M.L. Zoback
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America
Series Number
Index ID 70021050
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization