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Constraining Fault Friction and Stability with Fluid‐Injection Field Experiments

Larochelle, Stacy and Lapusta, Nadia and Ampuero, Jean-Paul and Cappa, Frédéric (2021) Constraining Fault Friction and Stability with Fluid‐Injection Field Experiments. Geophysical Research Letters . ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2020GL091188. (In Press)

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While the notion that injecting fluids into the subsurface can reactivate faults by reducing frictional resistance is well established, the ensuing evolution of slip is still poorly understood. What controls whether the induced slip remains stable and confined to the fluid‐affected zone or accelerates into a runaway earthquake? Are there observable indicators of the propensity to earthquakes before they happen? Here, we investigate these questions by modeling a unique fluid‐injection experiment on a natural fault with laboratory‐derived friction laws. We show that a range of fault models with diverging stability with sustained injection reproduce the slip measured during pressurization. Upon depressurization, however, the most unstable scenario departs from the observations, suggesting that the fault is relatively stable. The models could be further distinguished with optimized depressurization tests or spatially distributed monitoring. Our findings indicate that avoiding injection near low‐residual‐friction faults and depressurizing upon slip acceleration could help prevent large‐scale earthquakes.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper - Version 2 Paper - Version 1 ItemData
Larochelle, Stacy0000-0001-6161-5605
Lapusta, Nadia0000-0001-6558-0323
Ampuero, Jean-Paul0000-0002-4827-7987
Cappa, Frédéric0000-0003-4859-8024
Additional Information:© 2021 American Geophysical Union. Accepted manuscript online: 11 May 2021; Manuscript accepted: 05 May 2021; Manuscript revised: 30 April 2021; Manuscript received: 07 October 2020. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grants EAR 1151926 and EAR 1724686), the NSF-IUCRC Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (projects GMG-4.1, GMG-4.2), the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (PGSD-3-517078-2018), and the French government through the UCAJEDI Investments in the Future project managed by the National Research Agency (ANR) with the reference number ANR-15-IDEX-01. The computations presented here were conducted on the Caltech High Performance Cluster. The data supporting the analysis and conclusions is given in Figures and Tables, in the main text, and supplementary materials. Model outputs and the experimental data from the Guglielmi et al. 2015 field experiment are accessible through the CaltechDATA repository ( thank Jean-Philippe Avouac, Pathikrit Bhattacharya, Yves Guglielmi, and Robert C. Viesca for helpful discussions as well as Valère Lambert and Oliver Stephenson for help with the simulation code. The authors declare no competing interests. Data from the field experiment as reported in Guglielmi et al. (2015) can be found in the supplementary materials.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
IUCRC Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of GeohazardsGMG-4.1
IUCRC Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of GeohazardsGMG-4.2
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)PGSD-3-517078-2018
Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR)ANR-15-IDEX-01
Subject Keywords:fluid‐induced seismicity; fault stability; numerical modeling; aseismic slip; rate‐and‐state friction; in situ experiment
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201022-125153125
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Larochelle, S., Lapusta, N., Ampuero, J.‐P., & Cappa, F. (2021). Constraining Fault Friction and Stability with Fluid‐Injection Field Experiments. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2020GL091188.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106233
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:22 Oct 2020 20:30
Last Modified:13 May 2021 16:12

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