The 2004 Parkfield, California, earthquake was recorded by an extensive set of strong-motion instruments well positioned to record details of the motion in the near-fault region, where there has previously been very little recorded data. The strong-motion measurements obtained are highly varied, with significant variations occurring over only a few kilometers. The peak accelerations in the near fault region range from 0.13g to over 1.8g (one of the highest acceleration recorded to date, exceeding the capacity of the recording instrument). The largest accelerations occurred near the northwest end of the inferred rupture zone. These motions are consistent with directivity for a fault rupturing from the hypocenter near Gold Hill toward the northwest. However, accelerations up to 0.8g were also observed in the opposite direction, at the south end of the Cholame Valley near Highway 41, consistent with bilateral rupture, with rupture southeast of the hypocenter. Several stations near and over the rupturing fault recorded relatively weak motions, consistent with seemingly paradoxical observations of low shaking damage near strike-slip faults.
This event had more ground-motion observations within 10 km of the fault than many other earthquakes combined. At moderate distances peak horizontal ground acceleration (pga) values dropped off more rapidly with distance than standard relationships. At close-in distance the wide variation of pga suggests a distance- dependent sigma may be important to consider. The near-fault ground-motion variation is greater than that assumed in ShakeMap interpolations, based on the existing set of observed data. Higher density of stations near faults may be the only means in the near future to reduce uncertainty in the interpolations. Outside of the near- fault zone the variance is closer to that assumed.
This set of data provides the first case where near-fault radiation has been observed at an adequate number of stations around the fault to allow detailed study of the fault-normal and fault-parallel motion and the near-field S-wave radiation. The fault- normal motions are significant, but they are not large at the central part of the fault, away from the ends. The fault-normal and fault-parallel motions drop off quite rapidly with distance from the fault. Analysis of directivity indicates increased values of peak velocity in the rupture direction. No such dependence is observed in the peak acceleration, except for stations close to the strike of the fault near and beyond the ends of the faulting.