Unraveling the Evolution of an Unusually Active Earthquake Sequence Near Sheldon, Nevada





Earthquake swarms, Earthquake sources, Earthquake detection


One of most universal statistical properties of earthquakes is the tendency to cluster in space and time. Yet while clustering is pervasive, individual earthquake sequences can vary markedly in duration, spatial extent, and time evolution. In July 2014, a prolific earthquake sequence initiated within the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge in northwest Nevada, USA. The sequence produced 26 M4 earthquakes and several hundred M3s, with no clear mainshock or obvious driving force. Here we combine a suite of seismological analysis techniques to better characterize this unusual earthquake sequence. High-precision relocations reveal a clear, east dipping normal fault as the dominant structure that intersects with a secondary, subvertical cross fault. Seismicity occurs in burst of activity along these two structures before eventually transitioning to shallower structures to the east. Inversion of hundreds of moment tensors constrain the overall normal faulting stress regime. Source spectral analysis suggests that the stress drops and rupture properties of these events are typical for tectonic earthquakes in the western US. While regional station coverage is sparse in this remote study region, the timely installation of a temporary seismometer allows us to detect nearly 70,000 earthquakes over a 40-month time period when the seismic activity is highest. Such immense productivity is difficult to reconcile with current understanding of crustal deformation in the region and may be facilitated by local hydrothermal processes and earthquake triggering at the transitional intersection of subparallel fault systems.


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How to Cite

Trugman, D., Savran, W., Ruhl, C., & Smith, K. (2023). Unraveling the Evolution of an Unusually Active Earthquake Sequence Near Sheldon, Nevada. Seismica, 2(2). https://doi.org/10.26443/seismica.v2i2.1051




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