Sunday, August 24, 2014

24 August 2014 M6 Earthquake northern San Francisco Bay area (6km NW of American Canyon, California)

An M6 strike-slip earthquake occurred in the northern San Francisco Bay area last night (3:20 am local time). It is reported as 6 km NW of American Canyon and between Napa and Vallejo. This is the biggest event in the Bay Area since the 1989 M6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake. Aftershocks are following and will continue. Not a lot of additional data and interpretation are yet available, but they will be soon! There might be some surface rupture, and there should be coherent ground cracking (could end up being a semantic point!). There will be a lot of landslides, and there seems to be structure damage in especially some of the older brick buildings in the region. It sounds like people have been injured from falling debris. I hope everyone will be ok. The Did You Feel It mapping shows that shaking was very strong to severe in the north Bay area and it was felt widely across the region.

The UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and the Southern California Earthquake Center Data Center (link) have nice maps and lists showing the location of the main shock and the aftershocks elongate along the rupture zone. There is some useful commentary about the faults and their recent activity at the bottom of the main Main USGS page on the event.

The earthquake occurred in the area of the West Napa Fault. The focal mechanism is consistent with the expected right lateral slip. I made the figure using the USGS Quaternary Faults data base and the focal mechanism from the USGS. The center of the focal mechanism is on the epicenter.

Here is a kmz of the hillshaded digital elevation model (Napa watershed gathered by National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping in 2003) at 2 m resolution of the area of the main shock (click to download the kmz):

I georeferenced one of the maps from the Wesling and Hanson final technical report (click to download the kmz). Lineaments are targets for field survey:

Here is folder with georeferenced images.

I notice a Plate Boundary Observatory station not far from the southern end of the likely rupture zone (P261), but no updates yet for today to see a change in its position. There are also borehole strainmeters that apparently felt the squeeze.

Here are a few links:


  1. Thanks for the blog entry. Here is a link to a nice recent USGS report on the West Napa Fault: