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Rapid, continuous streaking of tremor in Cascadia

by Abhijit Ghosh, John E. Vidale, Justin R. Sweet, Kenneth C. Creager, Aaron G. Wech, Heidi Houston, Emily E. Brodsky
Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems ()

Abstract

Nonvolcanic tremor is a recently discovered weak seismic signal associated with slow slip on a fault plane and has potential to answer many questions about how faults move. Its spatiotemporal distribution, however, is complex and varies over different time scales, and the causal physical mechanisms remain unclear. Here we use a beam backprojection method to show rapid, continuous, slip‐parallel streaking of tremor over time scales of several minutes to an hour during the May 2008 episodic tremor and slip event in the Cascadia subduction zone. The streaks propagate across distances up to 65 km, primarily parallel to the slip direction of the subduction zone, both updip and downdip at velocities ranging from 30 to 200 km/h. We explore mainly two models that may explain such continuous tremor streaking. The first involves interaction of slowly migrating creep front with slip‐parallel linear structures on the fault. The second is pressure‐driven fluid flow through structurally controlled conduits on the fault. Both can be consistent with the observed propagation velocities and geometries, although the second one requires unlikely condition. In addition, we put this new observation in the context of the overall variability of tremor behavior observed over different time scales.

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