Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Geology and Geophysics (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Timothy H. Dixon

Second Committee Member

Rob Govers

Third Committee Member

Shimon Wdowinski

Fourth Committee Member

Christopher Harrison


An earthquake is a mechanism of stress release along plate boundaries due to relative motion between the Earth's lithospheric blocks. The period in which stresses are accruing across the plate boundary is known as the interseismic portion of the earthquake cycle. This dissertation focuses on interseismic portion of the earthquake cycle to extract characteristics of fault, shear zone and rock properties. Global Positioning System (GPS) data are used to observe the pattern of deformation across two primarily strike-slip fault systems: the Carrizo Segment of the San Andreas Fault (SAF) and the Eastern California Shear Zone (ECSZ). Two sets of GPS data are processed, analyzed and applied to analytic and numerical models describing the interseismic behavior of the earthquake cycle. The Carrizo segment is mature (i.e., had many earthquakes) and has juxtaposed terrains with varying rock properties laterally across the fault system. Lateral variations in rock properties affect the pattern of deformation around strike-slip faults and affect how surrounding rock deforms and if not considered may bias the interpretation of the faulted system. The Carrizo segment separates Franciscan terrain northeast of the fault from Salinian block to the southwest. GPS data are well fit to a model with a 15-25 km weak zone northeast of the Carrizo segment. The long-term slip rate estimated on the SAF is 34-38 mm/yr, with 2-4 mm/yr accommodated on faults to the west. The viscosity for the combined lower crust/upper mantle is estimated at 2-5x10^19 Pa s. This model is consistent with the distribution of rock type and corresponding laboratory data on their material properties, paleoseismic, seismic and magnetotelluric data. The ECSZ is a young (Myr) system of strike-slip faults including the Owens Valley - Airport Lake, Panamint Valley - Ash Hill - Hunter Mountain and Death Valley - Furnace Creek fault systems. The ECSZ study concentrates on fault evolution by finding the current position of maximum shear across the shear zone and estimating fault rates. Geologic studies suggest that the Death Valley - Furnace Creek fault system on eastern end of the ECSZ was the primary accommodator of slip early in the ECSZ history. This study suggests that the current locus of shear has shifted westward, and resides in the center of the ECSZ under the Panamint Valley - Ash Hill -Hunter Mountain fault system. The model dependent estimated geodetic rate of the Ash Hill - Panamint Valley -Hunter Mountain fault system (4.91-6.11 mm/yr) is faster than geologic estimates (1.6 - 4 mm/yr). The result is interpreted as a simplification of the ECSZ with time, combined with progressive westward migration of deformation. The best estimate for a combined rate across the shear zone is 10 mm/yr (20% of total Pacific-North America motion). The summation of rates obtained by this study is 49 mm/yr, well within estimates obtained by previous studies using independent techniques.


Fault Evolution; Geodesy; Geophysics; Tectonophysics; Finite Element; GPS; Global Positioning System; Strain Accumulation; Eastern California Shear Zone; San Andreas Fault