Datapages, Inc.Print this page

Earthquake Tectonics

STEWART, RAYMOND F., Computer Ideas & Answers, Bakersfield, CA

Earthquakes release a tremendous amount of energy into the subsurface in the form of seismic waves. The seismic wave energy of the San Francisco 1906 (M = 8.2) earthquake was equivalent to over 8 billion tons of TNT (3.3 x 1019 joules). Four basic wave types are propagated form seismic sources, two non-rotational and two rotational. As opposed to the non-rotational P and SH waves, the rotational compressional (RC) and rotational shear (RS) waves carry the bulk of the energy from a seismic source. RC wavefronts propagate in the subsurface and refract similarly to P waves, but are considerably slower. RC waves are critically refracted beneath the air-surface interface at velocities less than the velocity of sound in air because they refract at the velocity of sound in air minus the retr grade particle velocity at the top of the wave. They propagate at tsunami waves in the open ocean, and produce loud sounds on land that are heard by humans and animals during earthquakes. The energy of the RS wave dwarfs that of the P, SH, and even the RC wave. The RS wave is the same as what is currently called the S wave in earthquake seismology, and produces both folding and strike-slip faulting at considerable distances from the epicenter. RC and RS waves, propagated during earthquakes from the Santa Ynez fault and a right-slip fault on trend with the Red Mountain fault, produced the Santa Ynez Mountains in California beginning in the middle Pliocene and continuing until the present.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #91009©1991 AAPG-SEPM-SEG-SPWLA Pacific Section Annual Meeting, Bakersfield, California, March 6-8, 1991 (2009)