Abstract

The 17 January 1994 Northridge, California, earthquake significantly deformed the Earth's crust in the epicentral region. Displacements of 66 survey stations determined from Global Positioning System (GPS) observations collected before and after the earthquake show that individual stations were uplifted by up to 417 ± 5 mm and displaced horizontally by up to 216 ± 3 mm. Using these displacements, we estimate parameters of a uniform-slip model. Fault geometry and slip are estimated independent of seismological information, using Monte Carlo optimization techniques that minimize the model residuals. The plane that best fits the geodetic data lies 1 to 2 km above the plane indicated by aftershock seismicity. Modeling for distributed slip on a coplanar, yet larger model fault indicates that a high-slip patch occurred up-dip and northwest of the mainshock hypocenter and that less than 1 m of slip occurred in the uppermost 5 km of the crust. This finding is consistent with the lack of clear surface rupture and with the notion that the intersection with the fault that ruptured in 1971 formed the up-dip terminus of slip in the Northridge earthquake. Displacements predicted by either of these simple models explain most of the variance in the data within 50 km of the epicenter. On average, however, the scatter of the residuals is twice the data uncertainties, and in some areas, there is significant systematic misfit to either model. The co-seismic contributions of aftershocks are insufficient to explain this mismatch, indicating that the source geometry is more complicated than a single rectangular plane.

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