Analysis of more than a decade of high-quality data, particularly those from the two-color electronic distance meter (EDM), in the Parkfield, California, area reveals a significant transient in slip rate along the San Andreas Fault. This transient consists of an increase in fault slip rate of 3.3 ± 0.9 mm/yr during 1993.0 to 1998.0. The most reliable fault creep instruments show a comparable increase in slip rate, suggesting that the deformation is localized to the fault which breaks the surface. There was also an increase in precipitation around 1993. It is unlikely, however, that this anomaly is due directly to hydrology, as its spatial distribution is what would be expected for increased slip on the San Andreas Fault. The increase in slip rate corresponds temporally to a dramatic increase in seismicity, including the four largest earthquakes in the period 1984-1999 that occurred along a 6-km segment of the fault just to the north of the EDM network. There was also a previously reported anomaly in borehole shear strain [Gwyther et al., 1996] that closely corresponds temporally to the transient in EDM data. Solely on the basis of EDM data the transient can be modeled as a slip event on a 10-km-long segment of the fault. The calculated shear strains from this model, however, are not consistent with the observed ones. A compatible model can be found if there is increased aseismic slip to the northwest in conjunction with the four earthquakes. Support for this northwestern slip is provided by a recent study of slip rate based on microearthquake activity. We speculate that this northwestern event served to load the fault to the southeast, with the stress being partially released by the observed slip.


Geosciences and Geological and Petroleum Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

deformation; earthquake; seismicity; California; Parkfield; United States

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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© 2000 American Geophysical Union (AGU), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Feb 2000

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Geology Commons