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Rupture-dependent breakdown energy in fault models with thermo-hydro-mechanical processes

Lambert, Valère and Lapusta, Nadia (2020) Rupture-dependent breakdown energy in fault models with thermo-hydro-mechanical processes. Solid Earth, 11 (6). pp. 2283-2302. ISSN 1869-9529. doi:10.5194/se-11-2283-2020.

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Substantial insight into earthquake source processes has resulted from considering frictional ruptures analogous to cohesive-zone shear cracks from fracture mechanics. This analogy holds for slip-weakening representations of fault friction that encapsulate the resistance to rupture propagation in the form of breakdown energy, analogous to fracture energy, prescribed in advance as if it were a material property of the fault interface. Here, we use numerical models of earthquake sequences with enhanced weakening due to thermal pressurization of pore fluids to show how accounting for thermo-hydro-mechanical processes during dynamic shear ruptures makes breakdown energy rupture-dependent. We find that local breakdown energy is neither a constant material property nor uniquely defined by the amount of slip attained during rupture, but depends on how that slip is achieved through the history of slip rate and dynamic stress changes during the rupture process. As a consequence, the frictional breakdown energy of the same location along the fault can vary significantly in different earthquake ruptures that pass through. These results suggest the need to reexamine the assumption of predetermined frictional breakdown energy common in dynamic rupture modeling and to better understand the factors that control rupture dynamics in the presence of thermo-hydro-mechanical processes.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Lambert, Valère0000-0002-6174-9651
Lapusta, Nadia0000-0001-6558-0323
Additional Information:© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Received: 1 July 2020 – Discussion started: 21 July 2020 Revised: 5 October 2020 – Accepted: 11 October 2020 – Published: 26 November 2020. Numerical simulations for this study were carried out on the High Performance Computing Center cluster of the California Institute of Technology. We thank Eric Dunham and Elisa Tinti for helpful comments and suggestions that improved the paper. Data availability: The data supporting the analysis and conclusions are accessible through the CaltechDATA repository ( (Lambert and Lapusta, 2020). Author contributions: VL and NL both contributed to developing the main ideas, designing the modeling, and producing the paper. VL carried out and analyzed the presented numerical experiments. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Special issue statement: This article is part of the special issue “Thermo–hydro–mechanical–chemical (THMC) processes in natural and induced seismicity”. It is a result of the The 7th International Conference on Coupled THMC Processes, Utrecht, Netherlands, 3–5 July 2019. This research has been supported by the National Science Foundation (grant no. EAR 1724686), the United States Geological Survey (grant no. G19AP00059), and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC; contribution no. 19085). SCEC is funded by NSF cooperative agreement (no. EAR-1033462) and USGS cooperative agreement (no. G12AC20038). Review statement: This paper was edited by Jianye Chen and reviewed by E. M. Dunham and Elisa Tinti.
Group:Center for Geomechanics and Mitigation of Geohazards (GMG), Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences, Seismological Laboratory
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Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)UNSPECIFIED
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Southern California Earthquake Center19085
Issue or Number:6
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210107-102417875
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Official Citation:Lambert, V. and Lapusta, N.: Rupture-dependent breakdown energy in fault models with thermo-hydro-mechanical processes, Solid Earth, 11, 2283–2302,, 2020
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107359
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Jan 2021 18:23
Last Modified:15 Nov 2022 19:12

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