Abstract

Surface fracturing occurred along the southern San Andreas, Superstition Hills, and Imperial faults in association with the 16 October 1999 (Mw 7.1) Hector Mine earthquake, making this at least the eighth time in the past 31 years that a regional earthquake has triggered slip along faults in the Salton Trough. Fractures associated with the event formed discontinuous breaks over a 39-km-long stretch of the San Andreas fault, from the Mecca Hills southeastward to Salt Creek and Durmid Hill, a distance from the epicenter of 107 to 139 km. Sense of slip was right lateral; only locally was there a minor (∼1 mm) vertical component of slip. Dextral slip ranged from 1 to 13 mm. Maximum slip values in 1999 and earlier triggered slips are most common in the central Mecca Hills. Field evidence indicates a transient opening as the Hector Mine seismic waves passed the southern San Andreas fault. Comparison of nearby strong-motion records indicates several periods of relative opening with passage of the Hector Mine seismic wave—a similar process may have contributed to the field evidence of a transient opening.

Slip on the Superstition Hills fault extended at least 9 km, at a distance from the Hector Mine epicenter of about 188 to 196 km. This length of slip is a minimum value, because we saw fresh surface breakage extending farther northwest than our measurement sites. Sense of slip was right lateral; locally there was a minor (∼1 mm) vertical component of slip. Dextral slip ranged from 1 to 18 mm, with the largest amounts found distributed (or skewed) away from the Hector Mine earthquake source. Slip triggered on the Superstition Hills fault commonly is skewed away from the earthquake source, most notably in 1968, 1979, and 1999.

Surface slip on the Imperial fault and within the Imperial Valley extended about 22 km, representing a distance from the Hector Mine epicenter of about 204 to 226 km. Sense of slip dominantly was right lateral; the right-lateral component of slip ranged from 1 to 19 mm. Locally there was a minor (∼1–2 mm) vertical component of slip; larger proportions of vertical slip (up to 10 mm) occurred in Mesquite basin, where scarps indicate long-term oblique-slip motion for this part of the Imperial fault. Slip triggered on the Imperial fault appears randomly distributed relative to location along the fault and source direction. Multiple surface slips, both primary and triggered slip, indicate that slip repeatedly is small at locations of structural complexity.

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