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U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2006-1149
Version 1.0

Seismic Constraints and Coulomb Stress Changes of a Blind Thrust Fault System, 1: Coalinga and Kettleman Hills, California

By Jian Lin and Ross S. Stein


thumbnail view of map
Active faults and folds in central and southern California
(from figure 1).

This report reviews the seismicity and surface ruptures associated with the 1982-1985 earthquake sequence in the Coalinga region in California, and the role of Coulomb stress in triggering the mainshock sequence and aftershocks. The 1982-1985 New Idria, Coalinga, and Kettleman Hills earthquakes struck on a series of west-dipping, en echelon blind thrust faults. Each earthquake was accompanied by uplift of a Quaternary anticline atop the fault, and each was accompanied by a vigorous aftershock sequence. Aftershocks were widely dispersed, and are seen above and below the thrust fault, as well as along the up-dip and down-dip projection of the main thrust fault. For the Coalinga and Kettleman Hills earthquakes, high-angle reverse faults in the core of the anticlines are evident in seismic reflection profiles, and many of these faults are associated with small aftershocks. The shallowest aftershocks extended to within 3-4 km of the ground surface. There is no compelling evidence for aftershocks associated with flexural slip faulting. No secondary surface rupture was found on any of the anticlines. In contrast, the 1983 Nuñez rupture struck on a high-angle reverse fault 10 km west of the Coalinga epicenter, and over a 40-80-day period, up to 1 m of oblique surface slip occurred. The slip on this Holocene fault likely extended from the ground surface to a depth of 8-10 km. We argue that both the Nuñez and Kettleman earthquakes were triggered by stresses imparted by the Coalinga mainshock, which was the largest of the four events in the sequence.

Download this publication as a PDF file (of2006-1149.pdf; 17 pages, 8.5 MB)

Also of interest: Stein, R.S., and Lin, J., 2006, Seismic constraints and Coulomb stress changes of a blind thrust fault system, 2: Northridge, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1158, 17 p. [available on the World Wide Web at URL ].

For questions about the content of this report, contact Ross Stein

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Created: June 1, 2006
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