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Spatiotemporal analysis of the Foreshock-Mainshock-Aftershock sequence of the 6 July 2017 M5.8 Lincoln, Montana, earthquake

November 7, 2018

A MW 5.8 earthquake occurred on 6 July 2017 at 12.2 km depth, 11 km southeast of Lincoln in west central Montana. No major damage or injuries were reported; however, the widely felt mainshock generated a prolific aftershock sequence with more than 1200 located events through the end of 2017. The Lincoln event is the latest in a series of moderate-to-large earthquakes that have affected western Montana. We characterize the spatiotemporal evolution of the sequence using matched filter detection and multiple-event relocation techniques. Moment tensor solutions and aftershock locations indicate faulting occurred on a 9-km-long NNE-striking, near-vertical, strike-slip fault antithetic to the Lewis and Clark Line, the main through-going fault system. Seismicity primarily occurs between 6 and 16 km depth, consistent with seismicity in the Intermountain Seismic Belt. We estimate a fault rupture area of ~64 km2 and ~30 cm of average fault displacement. We identified four foreshocks in the three days prior to, and 3005 aftershocks in the three weeks following the mainshock. The supplemented catalog frequency-magnitude distribution has a b-value of 0.79 and a minimum magnitude of completeness of 0.7. The overall decay rate is consistent with a modified Omori decay law p-value of 0.76 and c-value of 0.32. This event demonstrates that unmapped faults antithetic to major geologic structures play a role in accommodating regional strain in Western Montana and can host significant earthquakes

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