Near-field deformation from the El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake revealed by differential LIDAR

Michael E. Oskin, Ramon Arrowsmith, Alejandro Hinojosa Corona, Austin J. Elliott, John M. Fletcher, Eric J. Fielding, Peter O. Gold, J. Javier Gonzalez Garcia, Ken W. Hudnut, Jing Liu-Zeng, Orlando J. Teran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations


Large [moment magnitude (Mw) ≥ 7] continental earthquakes often generate complex, multifault ruptures linked by enigmatic zones of distributed deformation. Here, we report the collection and results of a high-resolution (≥nine returns per square meter) airborne light detection and ranging (LIDAR) topographic survey of the 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake that produced a 120-kilometer-long multifault rupture through northernmost Baja California, Mexico. This differential LIDAR survey completely captures an earthquake surface rupture in a sparsely vegetated region with pre-earthquake lower-resolution (5-meter-pixel) LIDAR data. The postevent survey reveals numerous surface ruptures, including previously undocumented blind faults within thick sediments of the Colorado River delta. Differential elevation changes show distributed, kilometer-scale bending strains as large as ∼103 microstrains in response to slip along discontinuous faults cutting crystalline bedrock of the Sierra Cucapah.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-705
Number of pages4
Issue number6069
StatePublished - Feb 10 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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