A Caltech Library Service

Subcontinental-scale crustal velocity changes along the Pacific–North America plate boundary

Davis, J. L. and Wernicke, B. P. and Bisnath, S. and Niemi, N. A. and Elósegui, P. (2006) Subcontinental-scale crustal velocity changes along the Pacific–North America plate boundary. Nature, 441 (7097). pp. 1131-1134. ISSN 0028-0836.

Full text is not posted in this repository. Consult Related URLs below.

Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Transient tectonic deformation has long been noted within approx100 km of plate boundary fault zones and within active volcanic regions, but it is unknown whether transient motions also occur at larger scales within plates. Relatively localized transients are known to occur as both seismic and episodic aseismic events, and are generally ascribed to motions of magma bodies, aseismic creep on faults, or elastic or viscoelastic effects associated with earthquakes. However, triggering phenomena and systematic patterns of seismic strain release at subcontinental (~1,000 km) scale along diffuse plate boundaries have long suggested that energy transfer occurs at larger scale. Such transfer appears to occur by the interaction of stresses induced by surface wave propagation and magma or groundwater in the crust, or from large-scale stress diffusion within the oceanic mantle in the decades following clusters of great earthquakes. Here we report geodetic evidence for a coherent, subcontinental-scale change in tectonic velocity along a diffuse ~1,000-km-wide deformation zone. Our observations are derived from continuous GPS (Global Positioning System) data collected over the past decade across the Basin and Range province, which absorbs approximately 25 per cent of Pacific–North America relative plate motion. The observed changes in site velocity define a sharp boundary near the centre of the province oriented roughly parallel to the north-northwest relative plate motion vector. We show that sites to the west of this boundary slowed relative to sites east of it by ~1 mm yr^(-1) starting in late 1999.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle ReadCube access
Wernicke, B. P.0000-0002-7659-8358
Additional Information:© 2006 Nature Publishing Group. Received 1 December 2005; accepted 3 April 2006. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation and the US Department of Energy. UNAVCO, Inc., supports BARGEN site implementation, operation and maintenance. The authors thank R. Bürgmann for comments on the manuscript.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)UNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory62
Issue or Number:7097
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20101117-083117982
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:20843
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:17 Nov 2010 19:09
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 02:16

Repository Staff Only: item control page