Intermittent tremor migrations beneath Guerrero, Mexico, and implications for fault healing within the slow slip zone
Abstract Slow slip events exhibit significant complexity in slip evolution and variations in recurrence intervals. Behavior that varies systematically with recurrence interval is likely to reflect different extents of fault healing between these events. Here we use high-resolution tremor catalogs beneath Guerrero, Mexico, to investigate the mechanics of slow slip. We observe complex tremor propagation styles, including rapid tremor migrations propagating either along the main tremor front or backward, reminiscent of those in northern Cascadia. We also find many migrations that originate well behind the front and repeatedly occupy the same source region during a tremor episode, similar to those previously reported from Shikoku, Japan. These migrations could be driven by slow slip in the surrounding regions, with recurrence intervals possibly modulated by tides. The propagation speed of these migrations decreases systematically with time since the previous migration over the same source area. Tremor amplitudes seem consistent with changes in the propagation speeds being controlled primarily by changes in the slip speeds. One interpretation is that the high propagation speeds and inferred high slip speeds during the migrations with short recurrence intervals are caused by incomplete healing within the host rock adjacent to the shear zone, which could lead to high permeability and reduced dilatant strengthening of the fault gouge. Similar processes may operate in other slow slip source regions such as Cascadia.