Tomographic Rayleigh-wave group velocities in the Central Valley, California centered on the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



If shaking from a local or regional earthquake in the San Francisco Bay region were to rupture levees in the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta then brackish water from San Francisco Bay would contaminate the water in the Delta: the source of fresh water for about half of California. As a prelude to a full shear-wave velocity model that can be used in computer simulations and further seismic hazard analysis, we report on the use of ambient noise tomography to build a fundamental-mode, Rayleigh-wave group velocity model for the region around the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta in the western Central Valley, California. Recordings from the vertical component of about 31 stations were processed to compute the spatial distribution of Rayleigh wave group velocities. Complex coherency between pairs of stations were stacked over 8 months to more than a year. Dispersion curves were determined from 4 to about 18 seconds. We calculated average group velocities for each period and inverted for deviations from the average for a matrix of cells that covered the study area. Smoothing using the first difference is applied. Cells of the model were about 5.6 km in either dimension. Checkerboard tests of resolution, which is dependent on station density, suggest that the resolving ability of the array is reasonably good within the middle of the array with resolution between 0.2 and 0.4 degrees. Overall, low velocities in the middle of each image reflect the deeper sedimentary syncline in the Central Valley. In detail, the model shows several centers of low velocity that may be associated with gross geologic features such as faulting along the western margin of the Central Valley, oil and gas reservoirs, and large cross cutting features like the Stockton arch. At shorter periods around 5.5s, the model’s western boundary between low and high velocities closely follows regional fault geometry and the edge of a residual isostatic gravity low. In the eastern part of the valley, the boundaries of the low velocity zone and gravity anomaly are better aligned at longer periods (around 10.5s) suggesting that the eastern edge of the gravity low is associated with deeper structure. There is a strong correspondence between a low in gravity near the Kirby Hills fault and low velocities from the ambient noise tomography. At longer periods, higher velocities creep in from the east and narrow the overall dimension defined by the lower velocities. Overall, there is a strong correspondence between the shape and location of low velocities in the Rayleigh wave velocity images, and geological and geophysical features.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tomographic Rayleigh-wave group velocities in the Central Valley, California centered on the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1002/2015JB012376
Volume 121
Issue 4
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 18 p.
First page 2429
Last page 2446
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Central Valley, Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details