Spatiotemporal Variations of Stress and Strain Parameters in the San Jacinto Fault Zone

  • Niloufar AbolfathianEmail author
  • Patricia Martínez-Garzón
  • Yehuda Ben-Zion


We analyze the background stress field around the San Jacinto fault zone (SJFZ) in Southern California with a refined inversion methodology using declustered focal mechanisms of background seismicity. Stress inversions applied to the entire fault zone, and three focus areas with high level of seismicity, provide three-dimensional distributions of the maximum horizontal compression direction (SHmax), principal stress plunges, and stress ratio \(R = (\sigma_{1} - \sigma_{2} )/(\sigma_{1} - \sigma_{3} )\). The results are compared with coseismic strain parameters derived from direct summation of earthquake potencies and b values of frequency–size event statistics. The main stress regime of the SJFZ is strike-slip, although the northwest portion near Crafton Hills displays significant transtension. The SHmax orientation rotates clockwise with increasing depth, with the largest rotation (23°) observed near Crafton Hills. The principal stress plunges have large rotations below ~ 9 km, near the depth section with highest seismicity rates and inferred brittle–ductile transition zone. The rotations produce significant deviations from Andersonian strike-slip faulting, likely generating the observed increased dip-slip faulting of relatively deep small events. The stress ratio parameters and b value results are consistent with increasing number of dip-slip faulting below ~ 9 km. The derived coseismic strain parameters are in good agreement with the stress inversion results. No large-scale stress rotations are observed across the time of the 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor–Cucapah earthquake. The stress ratio near the Trifurcation area of the SJFZ changes after the El Mayor–Cucapah earthquake toward transpression, but this may have been produced by local M > 5.4 event or aseismic slip.


San Jacinto fault zone stress inversion coseismic strain b value spatiotemporal stress changes depth variations of stress parameters 



The study was supported by the Southern California Earthquake Center (based on NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-1600087 and USGS Cooperative Agreement G17AC00047). P.M.-G. acknowledges funding from the Helmholtz Association under the Helmholtz Postdoc Programme and the Helmholtz Young Investigators Group SAIDAN. The manuscript benefited from useful comments by two anonymous referees.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.GFZ German Research Centre for GeosciencesPotsdamGermany

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