Abstract

Left-lateral slip occurred on individual surface breaks along northeast-trending faults associated with the 24 November 1987 earthquake sequence in the Superstition Hills, Imperial Valley, California. This sequence included the Ms = 6.2 event on a left-lateral, northeast-trending “cross-fault” between the Superstition Hills fault (SHF) and Brawley seismic zone, which was spatially associated with the left-lateral surface breaks. Six distinct subparallel cross-faults broke at the surface, with rupture lengths ranging from about 112 to 10 km and maximum displacements ranging from 30 to 130 mm. About half a day after the Ms = 6.2 event, an Ms = 6.6 earthquake nucleated near the intersection of the cross-faults with the SHF, and rupture propagated southeast along the SHF. Whereas right-lateral slip on the SHF occurred dominantly on a single trace in a narrow zone, the cross-fault surface slip was distributed over several stands across a 10-km-wide zone. Also, whereas afterslip accounted for a large proportion of total slip on the SHF, there is no evidence for afterslip on the cross-faults. We present documentation of these surface ruptures. A simple mechanical model of faulting illustrates how the foreshock sequence may have triggered the main rupture. Displacement on other cross-faults could trigger an event on the southern San Andreas fault by a similar mechanism in the future.

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