Abstract

On 15 May 2020 an Mww 6.5 earthquake occurred beneath the Monte Cristo Range in the Mina Deflection region of western Nevada. Rapid deployment of eight temporary seismic stations enabled detailed analysis of its productive and slowly decaying aftershock sequence (p=0.8), which included 18,000 autodetected events in 3.5 months. Double‐difference, waveform‐based relative relocation of 16,714 earthquakes reveals a complex network of faults, many of which cross the inferred 35‐km‐long east–northeast‐striking, left‐lateral mainshock rupture. Seismicity aligns with left‐lateral, right‐lateral, and normal mechanism moment tensors of 128 of the largest earthquakes. The mainshock occurred near the middle of the aftershock zone at the intersection of two distinct zones of seismicity. In the western section, numerous subparallel, shallow, north‐northeast‐striking faults form a broad flower‐structure‐like fault mesh that coalesces at depth into a near‐vertical, left‐lateral fault. We infer the near‐vertical fault to be a region of significant slip in the mainshock and an eastward extension of the left‐lateral Candelaria fault. Near the mainshock hypocenter, seismicity occurs on a northeast‐striking, west‐dipping structure that extends north from the eastern Columbus Salt Marsh normal fault. Together, these two intersecting structures bound the Columbus Salt Marsh tectonic basin. East of this intersection and the mainshock hypocenter, seismicity occurs in a narrow, near‐vertical, east‐northeast‐striking fault zone through to its eastern terminus. At the eastern end, the aftershock zone broadens and extends northwest toward the southern extension of the northwest‐striking, right‐lateral Petrified Springs fault system. The eastern section hosts significantly fewer aftershocks than the western section, but has more moment release. We infer that shallow aftershocks throughout the system highlight fault‐fracture meshes that connect mapped fault systems at depth. Comparing earthquake data with surface ruptures and a simple geodetic fault model sheds light on the complexity of this recent M 6.5 Walker Lane earthquake.

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