Title

Evaluation of the evolving stress field of the Yellowstone volcanic plateau, 1988 to 2010, from earthquake first-motion inversions

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-20-2017

Abstract

© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Although the last rhyolite eruption occurred around 70 ka ago, the silicic Yellowstone volcanic field is still considered active due to high hydrothermal and seismic activity and possible recent magma intrusions. Geodetic measurements document complex deformation patterns in crustal strain and seismic activity likewise reveal spatial and temporal variations in the stress field. We use earthquake data recorded between 1988 and 2010 to investigate these variations and their possible causes in more detail. Earthquake relocations and a set of 369 well-constrained, double-couple, focal mechanism solutions were computed. Events were grouped according to location and time to investigate trends in faulting. The majority of the events have normal-faulting solutions, subordinate strike-slip kinematics, and very rarely, reverse motions. The dominant direction of extension throughout the 0.64 Ma Yellowstone caldera is nearly ENE, consistent with the perpendicular direction of alignments of volcanic vents within the caldera, but our study also reveals spatial and temporal variations. Stress-field solutions for different areas and time periods were calculated from earthquake focal mechanism inversion. A well-resolved rotation of σ3 was found, from NNE-SSW near the Hebgen Lake fault zone, to ENE-WSW near Norris Junction. In particular, the σ3 direction changed throughout the years around Norris Geyser Basin, from being ENE-WSW, as calculated in the study by Waite and Smith (2004), to NNE-SSW, while the other σ3 directions are mostly unchanged over time. The presence of “chocolate tablet” structures, with two sets of nearly perpendicular normal faults, was identified in many stages of the deformation history both in the Norris Geyser Basin area and inside the caldera.

Publication Title

Tectonophysics

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