Since a regional earthquake in 1951, shallow creep events on strike-slip faults within the Salton Trough, Southern California have been triggered at least 10 times by M. ≥. 5.4 earthquakes within 200 km. The high earthquake and creep activity and the long history of digital recording within the Salton Trough region provide a unique opportunity to study the mechanism of creep event triggering by nearby earthquakes. Here, we document the history of fault creep events on the Superstition Hills Fault based on data from creepmeters, InSAR, and field surveys since 1988. We focus on a subset of these creep events that were triggered by significant nearby earthquakes. We model these events by adding realistic static and dynamic perturbations to a theoretical fault model based on rate- and state-dependent friction. We find that the static stress changes from the causal earthquakes are less than 0.1 MPa and too small to instantaneously trigger creep events. In contrast, we can reproduce the characteristics of triggered slip with dynamic perturbations alone. The instantaneous triggering of creep events depends on the peak and the time-integrated amplitudes of the dynamic Coulomb stress change. Based on observations and simulations, the stress change amplitude required to trigger a creep event of a 0.01-mm surface slip is about 0.6 MPa. This threshold is at least an order of magnitude larger than the reported triggering threshold of non-volcanic tremors (2-60 kPa) and earthquakes in geothermal fields (5 kPa) and near shale gas production sites (0.2-0.4 kPa), which may result from differences in effective normal stress, fault friction, the density of nucleation sites in these systems, or triggering mechanisms. We conclude that shallow frictional heterogeneity can explain both the spontaneous and dynamically triggered creep events on the Superstition Hills Fault.
Wei, M., Liu, Y., Kaneko, Y., McGuire, J. J., & Bilham, R. (2015). Dynamic triggering of creep events in the Salton Trough, Southern California by regional M≥5.4 earthquakes constrained by geodetic observations and numerical simulations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 427, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2015.06.044