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Investigating the Seismicity and Stress Field of the Truckee - Lake Tahoe Region, California - Nevada
AuthorSeaman, Tyler Chang
AdvisorSmith, Kenneth D
Geological Sciences and Engineering
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The Lake Tahoe basin is located in a transtensional environment defined by east–dipping range–bounding normal faults, northeast–trending sinistral, and northwest–trending dextral strike–slip faults in the northern Walker Lane deformation belt. This region accommodates as much as 10 mm/yr of dextral shear between the Sierra Nevada and Basin and Range proper, or about 20% of Pacific–North American plate motion. There is abundant seismicity north of Lake Tahoe through the Truckee, California region as opposed to a lack of seismicity associated with the primary normal faults in the Tahoe basin (i.e., West Tahoe fault). This seismicity study is focused on the structural transition zone from north–striking east–dipping Sierran Range bounding normal faults into the northern Walker Lane right–lateral strike–slip domain. Relocations of earthquakes between 2000–2013 are performed by initially applying HYPOINVERSE mean sea level datum and station corrections to produce higher confidence absolute locations as input to HYPODD. HYPODD applies both phase and cross–correlation times for a final set of ‘best’ event relocations. Relocations of events in the upper brittle crust clearly align along well–imaged, often intersecting, high–angle structures of limited lateral extent. In addition, the local stress field is modeled from 679 manually determined short–period focal mechanism solutions, between 2000 and 2013, located within a fairly dense local seismic network. Short–period focal mechanisms were developed with the HASH algorithm and moment tensor solutions using long–period surface waves and the MTINV code. Resulting solutions show a 9:1 ratio of strike–slip to normal mechanisms in the transition zone study area. Stress inversions using the application SATSI (USGS Spatial And Temporal Stress Inversion) generally show a T–axis oriented primarily E–W that also rotates about 30 degrees counterclockwise, from a WNW–ESE trend to ENE–WSW, moving west to east across the California—Nevada border just north of Lake Tahoe. Focal mechanism and stress inversion results, based on the variance of the P–axis orientation, reveal a strike–slip dominated region directly north of Lake Tahoe that abruptly transitions northeastward to a transtentional regime along the Sierra front (i.e., in the hanging wall regime of the Sierran block). The majority of earthquakes used in the relocation and stress analysis occurs within a time period that includes unusual upper mantle/lower–crustal (∼30 km depth) dike injection events: 1) 2003 North Lake Tahoe and 2) 2011–2012 Sierra Valley, CA, that we interpret to be rift–related processes along the eastern Sierra Nevada microplate. Earthquake relocations for events shallower than about 18 km depth (the seismogenic depth determined in this study in the north Lake Tahoe area) cluster along high–angle fault structures, primarily in the footwall of the Sierra Nevada block. This new analysis isolates areas of distinctly strike–slip versus transtensional stress regimes, based on the variability of the P–axis plunge, that straddle the Sierra Nevada—Great Basin transition zone at the latitude of Lake Tahoe.