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Stable creeping fault segments can become destructive as a result of dynamic weakening

Noda, Hiroyuki and Lapusta, Nadia (2013) Stable creeping fault segments can become destructive as a result of dynamic weakening. Nature, 493 (7433). pp. 518-521. ISSN 0028-0836.

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Faults in Earth’s crust accommodate slow relative motion between tectonic plates through either similarly slow slip or fast, seismic-wave-producing rupture events perceived as earthquakes. These types of behaviour are often assumed to be separated in space and to occur on two different types of fault segment: one with stable, rate-strengthening friction and the other with rate-weakening friction that leads to stick-slip. The 2011 Tohoku-Oki earthquake with moment magnitude M_w = 9.0 challenged such assumptions by accumulating its largest seismic slip in the area that had been assumed to be creeping. Here we propose a model in which stable, rate-strengthening behaviour at low slip rates is combined with coseismic weakening due to rapid shear heating of pore fluids, allowing unstable slip to occur in segments that can creep between events. The model parameters are based on laboratory measurements on samples from the fault of the M_w 7.6 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake. The long-term slip behaviour of the model, which we examine using a unique numerical approach that includes all wave effects, reproduces and explains a number of both long-term and coseismic observations—some of them seemingly contradictory—about the faults at which the Tohoku-Oki and Chi-Chi earthquakes occurred, including there being more high-frequency radiation from areas of lower slip, the largest seismic slip in the Tohoku-Oki earthquake having occurred in a potentially creeping segment, the overall pattern of previous events in the area and the complexity of the Tohoku-Oki rupture. The implication that earthquake rupture may break through large portions of creeping segments, which are at present considered to be barriers, requires a re-evaluation of seismic hazard in many areas.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Lapusta, Nadia0000-0001-6558-0323
Additional Information:© 2013 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 15 May; accepted 23 October 2012; published online 9 January 2013. This study was supported by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) (grant EAR 0548277), the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The SCEC is funded by NSF Cooperative Agreement EAR-0106924 and USGS Cooperative Agreement 02HQAG0008. This is SCEC contribution no. 1675 and Caltech Tectonics Observatory contribution no. 213. Numerical simulations for this study were performed on the CITerra Dell cluster at the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences of the California Institute of Technology. Author Contributions: Both authors contributed to developing the main ideas, interpreting the results and producing the manuscript. H.N. designed, carried out and analysed the numerical experiments described in the paper.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)UNSPECIFIED
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Southern California Earthquake Center1675
Caltech Tectonics Observatory213
Issue or Number:7433
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130208-131948816
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36825
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:11 Feb 2013 21:04
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 04:41

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