Crustal Rotation and Fluids: Factors for the 2019 Ridgecrest Earthquake Sequence?


Abstract P-wave azimuthal anisotropic tomography reveals that the July 6, 2019 Mw 7.1 Ridgecrest earthquake occurred in a region with clockwise crustal rotation. The rotation together with the sinistral slip on the Garlock Fault is a response to the northwest-trending, dextral shear within the Eastern California Shear Zone due to the relative motion between the Pacific and North America Plates. The hypocentral area of the Ridgecrest mainshock is characterized by a sharp lateral velocity contrast which has a reversal in contrast polarity at about 5 km depth. We find high Vp/Vs ratio structures covering the rupture zones of the Mw 6.4 foreshock and the Mw 7.1 mainshock, which may indicate the existence of fluids in the fault zones. We speculate that fluids and crustal rotation may have played important mechanical roles in causing the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence.

Geophysical Research Letters