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U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2006-1158
Version 1.0

Seismic Constraints and Coulomb Stress Changes of a Blind Thrust Fault System, 2: Northridge, California

By Ross S. Stein and Jian Lin


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Seismicity, areas of secondary surface rupture (ground cracking), and the principal surface of blind faulting associated with the 1994 M=6.7 Northridge earthquake. Red faults ruptured in the 1971 M=6.7 San Fernando earthquake.
(from figure 1).

We review seismicity, surface faulting, and Coulomb stress changes associated with the 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake. All of the observed surface faulting is shallow, extending meters to tens of meters below the surface. Relocated aftershocks reveal no seismicity shallower than 2 km depth. Although many of the aftershocks lie along the thrust fault and its up-dip extension, there are also a significant number of aftershocks in the core of the gentle anticline above the thrust, and elsewhere on the up-thrown block. These aftershocks may be associated with secondary ramp thrusts or flexural slip faults at a depth of 2-4 km. The geological structures typically associated with a blind thrust fault, such as anticlinal uplift and an associated syncline, are obscured and complicated by surface thrust faults associated with the San Fernando fault that overly the Northridge structures. Thus the relationship of the geological structure and topography to the underlying thrust fault is much more complex for Northridge than it is for the 1983 Coalinga, California, earthquake. We show from a Coulomb stress analysis that secondary surface faulting, diffuse aftershocks, and triggered sequences of moderate-sized mainshocks, are expected features of moderate-sized blind thrust earthquakes.

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Also of interest: Lin, J., and Stein, R.S., 2006, Seismic constraints and Coulomb stress changes of a blind thrust fault system, 1: Coalinga and Kettleman Hills, California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2006-1149 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 16, 2006
Last modified: June 16, 2006 (mfd)