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San Andreas Fault Mysteries Begin to Unravel


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Differences in seismic activity along the San Andreas fault appear to be related to strength variations in the lower crust and upper mantle

The area studied is a transition zone between segments of locked and creeping behavior along the San Andreas fault, and includes a zone of pronounced seismic tremor. The data provide evidence of fluids migrating into the creeping section that appear to originate from a region that is also responsible for stimulating tremors. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that high fluid pressures play a crucial role in the weakening of faults.

U.S. Geological Survey scientist Paul Bedrosian, along with colleagues Michael Becken, Oliver Ritter, and Ute Weckmann from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany, used an electromagnetic geophysical method to image subsurface conductivity within the crust.

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