The paucity of strong-motion stations near the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake makes it impossible to make instrumental studies of key questions about near-fault strong-motion patterns associated with this event. However, observations of displaced rocks allow a qualitative investigation of these problems. By observing the slope of the desert surface and the frictional coefficient between these rocks and the desert surface, we estimate the minimum horizontal acceleration needed to displace the rocks. Combining this information with observations of how many rocks were displaced in different areas near the fault, we infer the level of shaking. Given current empirical shaking attenuation relationships, the number of rocks that moved is slightly lower than expected; this implies that slightly lower than expected shaking occurred during the Hector Mine earthquake. Perhaps more importantly, stretches of the fault with 4 m of total displacement at the surface displaced few nearby rocks on 15° slopes, suggesting that the horizontal accelerations were below 0.2g within meters of the fault scarp. This low level of shaking suggests that the shallow parts of this rupture did not produce strong accelerations. Finally, we did not observe an increased incidence of displaced rocks along the fault zone itself. This suggests that, despite observations of fault-zone-trapped waves generated by aftershocks of the Hector Mine earthquake, such waves were not an important factor in controlling peak ground acceleration during the mainshock.

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