The 6 June 2003 Bardwell, Kentucky, earthquake sequence: Evidence for a locally perturbed stress field in the Mississippi embayment


This article describes an unusually well-behaved, unusually well-documented, central and eastern United States (CEUS) earthquake sequence. Detailed analysis of regional and local waveform data from the 6 June 2003 Bardwell, Kentucky, earthquake indicates that the mainshock has the seismic moment of M0 1.3 (±0.5) × 1015 N m (Mw 4.0) and occurred at a depth of about 2 (±1) km on a near-vertical fault plane. A temporary seismic network recorded 85 aftershocks that delineate an east-trending fault approximately 1 km in length. The hypocenters illuminate a vertical plane between 2.0 and 2.7 km depth. The centroid of the aftershock distribution is at 36.875° N, 89.010° W and a depth of 2.4 km. The aftershock cluster is interpreted as a circular fault area with a radius of 0.44 (±0.03) km. This source radius yields a static stress drop, Δσ = 67 (± 14) bars for the mainshock. The focal mechanism for the mainshock has strike = 90°, dip = 89°, and rake = - 165° with a subhorizontal P axis trending 135°. A formal stress inversion based on the focal mechanisms of the mainshock and ten aftershocks indicates the maximum compressive stress trends 104° with a plunge of 5°. The local stress field near Bardwell is therefore rotated about 40° clockwise relative to 65° for eastern North America as a whole. The Bardwell earthquakes have the opposite sense of slip to earthquakes with east-trending nodal planes that occur near New Madrid, Missouri. This requires a significant local rotation of the stress field over a distance of 60 km.

Publication Title

Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America