Abstract

We analyze the source properties of a sequence of triggered earthquakes that occurred near the Salton Sea in southern California in the immediate aftermath of the M 7.1 Hector Mine earthquake of 16 October 1999. The sequence produced a number of early events that were not initially located by the regional network, including two moderate earthquakes: the first within 30 sec of the P-wave arrival and a second approximately 10 minutes after the mainshock. We use available amplitude and waveform data from these events to estimate magnitudes to be approximately 4.7 and 4.4, respectively, and to obtain crude estimates of their locations. The sequence of small events following the initial M 4.7 earthquake is clustered and suggestive of a local aftershock sequence. Using both broadband TriNet data and analog data from the Southern California Seismic Network (SCSN), we also investigate the spectral characteristics of the M 4.4 event and other triggered earthquakes using empirical Green's function (EGF) analysis. We find that the source spectra of the events are consistent with expectations for tectonic (brittle shear failure) earthquakes, and infer stress drop values of 0.1 to 6 MPa for six M 2.1 to M 4.4 events. The estimated stress drop values are within the range observed for tectonic earthquakes elsewhere. They are relatively low compared to typically observed stress drop values, which is consistent with expectations for faulting in an extensional, high heat flow regime. The results therefore suggest that, at least in this case, triggered earthquakes are associated with a brittle shear failure mechanism. This further suggests that triggered earthquakes may tend to occur in geothermal–volcanic regions because shear failure occurs at, and can be triggered by, relatively low stresses in extensional regimes.

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