Abstract

Surface rupturing during the 28 June 1992 Landers, California, earthquake, east of Los Angeles, accommodated right-lateral offsets up to about 6 m along segments of distinct, en-echelon fault zones with a total length of 80 km. The offsets were accommodated generally not by faults—distinct slip surfaces—but rather by shear zones, tabular bands of localized shearing. Along simple stretches of fault zones at Landers the rupture is characterized by telescoping of shear zones and intensification of shearing: broad shear zones of mild shearing, containing narrow shear zones of more intense shearing, containing even narrower shear zones of very intense shearing, which may contain a fault. Thus the ground ruptured across broad belts of shearing with clearly defined, subparallel walls, oriented NW. Each broad belt consists of a broad zone of mild shearing, extending across its entire width (50 to 200 m), and much narrower (a few meters wide) shear zones that accommodate most of the offset of the belt and are portrayed by en-echelon tension cracks. In response to right-lateral shearing, the slices of ground bounded by the tension cracks rotated in a clockwise sense, producing left-lateral shearing, and the slices were forced against the walls of the shear zone, producing thrusting. Even narrower shear zones formed within the narrow shear zones. Although these probably are guides to right-lateral fault segments below, the surface rupturing during the earthquake is characterized not by faulting, but by the formation of shear zones at various scales.

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