Section 83
Chapter 82,901

Deformation from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake near the southwest margin of the Santa Clara Valley, California

Schmidt, K.M.; Ellen, S.D.; Peterson, D.M.

Geosphere 10(6): 1177-1202


ISSN/ISBN: 1553-040X
Accession: 082900014

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Damage to pavement and near-surface utility pipes caused by the 17 October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake provides evidence for ground deformation in a 663 km2 area near the southwest margin of the Santa Clara Valley, California (USA). A total of 1427 damage sites, collected from more than 30 sources, are concentrated in four zones, three of which are near previously mapped faults. In one of these zones, the channel lining of Los Gatos Creek, a 2-km-long concrete strip trending perpendicular to regional geologic structure, was broken by thrusts that were concentrated in two belts, each several tens of meters wide, separated by more than 300 m of relatively undeformed concrete. To gain additional measurement of any permanent ground deformation that accompanied this damage, we compiled and conducted post-earthquake surveys along two 5 km lines of horizontal control and a 15 km level line. Measurements of horizontal distortion indicate ∼0.1 m shortening in a northeast-southwest direction across the valley margin, similar to the amount measured in the channel lining. Evaluation of precise leveling by the National Geodetic Survey showed a downwarp with an amplitude of >0.1 m over a span of >12 km that resembled regional geodetic models of coseismic deformation. Although the leveling indicates broad, regional warping, abrupt discontinuities characteristic of faulting characterize both the broad-scale distribution of damage and the local deformation of the channel lining. Reverse movement, largely along preexisting faults and probably enhanced significantly by warping combined with enhanced ground shaking, produced the documented coseismic ground deformation.

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