We examined short-period P waves to investigate if waveform data could be used to determine which of two nodal planes was the actual fault plane for a small (ML 4.6) earthquake near Upland, California. We removed path and site complications by choosing a small aftershock (ML 2.7) as an empirical Green function. The main shock P waves were deconvolved by using the empirical Green function to produce simple far-field displacement pulses. We used a least-squares method to invert these pulses for the slip distribution on a finite fault. Both nodal planes (strike 125°, dip 85° and strike 221°, dip 40°) of the first-motion focal mechanism were tested at various rupture velocities. The southwest trending fault plane consistently gave better fitting solutions than the southeast-trending plane. We determined a moment of 4.2 × 1022 dyne-cm. The rupture velocity, and thus the source area could not be well resolved, but if we assume a reasonable rupture velocity of 0.87 times the shear wave velocity, we obtain a source area of 0.97 km2 and a stress drop of 38 bars. Choice of a southwest-trending fault plane is consistent with the trend of the nearby portion of the Transverse Ranges frontal fault zone and indicates left-lateral motion. This method provides a way to determine the fault plane for small earthquakes that have no surface rupture and no obvious trend in aftershock locations.

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