TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 56 (No. 12), pp. 1177-1184, 2004

On the geoelectric structure of major strike-slip faults and shear zones

Martyn Unsworth1 and Paul A. Bedrosian2

1University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
2GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam, Germany

(Received April 28, 2004; Revised October 1, 2004; Accepted October 14, 2004)

Abstract: Magnetotelluric imaging of the San Andreas Fault has shown that seismically-active segments are characterized by a zone of low resistivity in the upper crust. Similar resistivity features are observed on other major strike-slip faults, and may have a common origin in a region of fractured rock, partially or fully saturated with groundwater. Other strike-slip faults show possible zones of reduced resistivity in the mid and lower crust that may be related to zones of ductile shear. Additional MT surveys are required to elucidate the role of fluids in controlling the seismic behaviour of major faults, both in and below the seismogenic zone. A set of synthetic inversions show that MT data is sensitive to the geoelectric structure of a shear zone at mid-crustal depths.
Key words: Magnetotellurics, shear zones, strike-slip faults, earthquake cycle, San Andreas Fault.

Corresponding author E-mail: unsworth@phys.ualberta.ca

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