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The Parkfield, California earthquake experiment: An update in 2000

01/2000; 79.

ABSTRACT The US Geological Survey, in cooperation with other institutions, continues to monitor the San Andreas Fault (SAF) near Parkfield, California, hoping to capture high resolution records of continuous de-formation before, during and after a magnitude 6 earthquake, as well as the details of its rupture initia-tion and strong ground motion. Despite the failure of the prediction that the next M 6 Parkfield earthquake would occur before 1993, Parkfield still has a higher known probability (1 to 10% per year) than anywhere else in the US of a M 6 or greater earthquake. Park-field instrumentation is still largely in place, although there have been losses due to attrition as well as improvements made possible by new technology. Most Parkfield data sets are now available via the Internet, and all others may be obtained upon request from individual investigators. Detailed seismic monitoring has shown that events with identical seismograms, recurring in exactly the same locations, account for a high proportion of the background seismicity at Park-field. Geophysical studies have revealed that fault zone seismic and electrical properties are consistent with high fluid content. The rate of interseismic slip on the SAF changed significantly in late 1992 or early 1993, during a period of relatively high seismic acti-vity. The strain-rate change, measured by borehole tensor strainmeters and the two-colour electronic dis-tance-measuring network, was also manifested as shortened recurrence intervals of repeating micro-earthquakes. Whether or not the accelerated defor-mation turns out to be an intermediate-term precursor to the next M 6 Parkfield earthquake, docu-menting the variation of interseismic strain rates with time has important implications for fault dynamics and seismic hazard estimation. Two possible instances of pre-earthquake signals have been recorded at Parkfield: water-level and strain changes over a period of three days prior to the nearby 1985 M w 6.1 Kettleman Hills, California, earthquake and anoma-lous electromagnetic signals prior to the M 5 earth-quake near Parkfield on 20 December 1994. Future work planned at Parkfield includes a National Science Foundation proposal to construct an SAF Observa-tory at Depth (SAFOD), as part of the Earthscope initiative. The Observatory will consist of a 4-km-deep borehole to penetrate the SAF and a shallow micro-earthquake cluster on Middle Mountain, directly above the hypocenter of the 1966 Parkfield earthquake.

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