Report

Near-Field Deformation from the El Mayor–Cucapah Earthquake Revealed by Differential LIDAR

Science  10 Feb 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6069, pp. 702-705
DOI: 10.1126/science.1213778

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Abstract

Large [moment magnitude (Mw) ≥ 7] continental earthquakes often generate complex, multifault ruptures linked by enigmatic zones of distributed deformation. Here, we report the collection and results of a high-resolution (≥nine returns per square meter) airborne light detection and ranging (LIDAR) topographic survey of the 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor–Cucapah earthquake that produced a 120-kilometer-long multifault rupture through northernmost Baja California, Mexico. This differential LIDAR survey completely captures an earthquake surface rupture in a sparsely vegetated region with pre-earthquake lower-resolution (5-meter–pixel) LIDAR data. The postevent survey reveals numerous surface ruptures, including previously undocumented blind faults within thick sediments of the Colorado River delta. Differential elevation changes show distributed, kilometer-scale bending strains as large as ~103 microstrains in response to slip along discontinuous faults cutting crystalline bedrock of the Sierra Cucapah.

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