Changes in the level of ancient Lake Cahuilla over the last 1500 years in the Salton Trough alter the state of stress by bending the lithosphere in response to the applied lake load and by varying the pore pressure magnitude within the crust. The recurrence interval of the lake is similar to the recurrence interval of rupture on the southern San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, both of which are partially covered by the lake at its highstand. Furthermore, four of the last five ruptures on the southern San Andreas fault have occurred near a time of substantial lake level change. We investigate the effect of Coulomb stress perturbations on local faults due to changing level of Lake Cahuilla to determine a possible role for the lake in affecting the timing of fault rupture. Coulomb stress is calculated with a three-dimensional model of an elastic plate overlying a viscoelastic half-space. Plate thickness and half-space relaxation time are adjusted to match observed vertical deformation since the last lake highstand. The lake cycle causes positive and negative Coulomb stress perturbations of 0.2-0.6 MPa on the southern San Andreas within the lake and 0.1-0.2 MPa on the southern San Andreas outside the lake. These Coulomb stress perturbations are comparable to stress magnitudes known to have triggered events at other faults along the North America-Pacific plate boundary. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Luttrell, K., Sandwell, D., Smith-Konter, B., Bills, B., & Bock, Y. (2007). Modulation of the earthquake cycle at the southern San Andreas fault by lake loading. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 112 (8) https://doi.org/10.1029/2006JB004752