Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geophysics (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor 1

Greg Waite

Committee Member 1

Aleksey Smirnov

Committee Member 2

Radwin Askari


We present high-quality focal mechanisms and stress inversions based on a refined earthquake location catalog for the Yellowstone Plateau. The relocation process is based on non-linear search techniques that use three-dimensional velocity models. The original catalog contained 18,940 events between January 2010 and March 2021 and was obtained from the University of Utah Seismograph Stations. We successfully relocate 7735 earthquakes and use this information to calculate the focal mechanisms by using two approaches. First, we only consider the P-wave first motion polarities and use the HASH program. For the second approach, we include the S-wave/P-wave amplitude ratios and evaluate if they can improve the computed focal mechanisms obtained using only P-wave first motion polarities. We filter the results to create a subset of data with the best quality solutions. Finally, we run joint inversion for stress and fault orientations from focal mechanisms using the STRESSINVERSE package. We divide the study area into smaller sections to analyze the spatial and temporal variations of the seismic stress field. Overall, the inclusion of the amplitude ratios proved to be efficient at improving the low-quality events, but it is inefficient at refining solutions with previously established good quality solutions. The stress field in this area presents temporal variations that are associated with the uplift and subsidence processes. The Yellowstone Plateau also displays spatial variations. To describe these variations, we use the minimum principal stress directions that are horizontal or near horizontal in all the cases as expected for an extensional regime dominated by NE-SW Basin and Range extension in this area. The minimum stress direction rotates from an orientation near to N-S near Hebgen Lake fault zone to NE-SW near Norris Junction. In addition, all the regions that fall within the 0.64 Ma caldera display orientations ENE-WSW.