Abstract

Surface creep rate, observed along five branches of the dextral San Andreas fault system in northern California, varies considerably from one section to the next, indicating that so too may the depth at which the faults are locked. We model locking on 29 fault sections using each section’s mean long‐term creep rate and the consensus values of fault width and geologic slip rate. Surface creep rate observations from 111 short‐range alignment and trilateration arrays and 48 near‐fault, Global Positioning System station pairs are used to estimate depth of creep, assuming an elastic half‐space model and adjusting depth of creep iteratively by trial and error to match the creep observations along fault sections. Fault sections are delineated either by geometric discontinuities between them or by distinctly different creeping behaviors. We remove transient rate changes associated with five large (M≥5.5) regional earthquakes. Estimates of fraction locked, the ratio of moment accumulation rate to loading rate, on each section of the fault system provide a uniform means to inform source parameters relevant to seismic‐hazard assessment. From its mean creep rates, we infer the main branch (the San Andreas fault) ranges from only 20%±10% locked on its central creeping section to 99%–100% on the north coast. From mean accumulation rates, we infer that four urban faults appear to have accumulated enough seismic moment to produce major earthquakes: the northern Calaveras (M 6.8), Hayward (M 6.8), Rodgers Creek (M 7.1), and Green Valley (M 7.1). The latter three faults are nearing or past their mean recurrence interval.

Online Material: High‐resolution fault system map, and tables of creep observations and geographic coordinates of fault model.

You do not currently have access to this article.