Stress Diffusion Along the San Andreas Fault at Parkfield, California

Science  15 May 1992:
Vol. 256, Issue 5059, pp. 1005-1007
DOI: 10.1126/science.256.5059.1005


Beginning in January 1990, the epicenters of microearthquakes associated with a 12-month increase in seismicity near Parkfield, California, moved northwest to southeast along the San Andreas fault. During this sequence of events, the locally variable rate of cumulative seismic moment increased. This increase implies a local increase in fault slip. These data suggest that a southeastwardly diffusing stress front propagated along the San Andreas fault at a speed of 30 to 50 kilometers per year. Evidently, this front did not load the Parkfield asperities fast enough to produce a moderate earthquake; however, a future front might do so.