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Evidence for Universal Earthquake Rupture Initiation Behavior

Meier, Men-Andrin and Heaton, Thomas and Clinton, John F. (2016) Evidence for Universal Earthquake Rupture Initiation Behavior. Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (15). pp. 7991-7996. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1002/2016GL070081.

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Earthquake onsets provide a unique opportunity to study physical rupture processes because they are more easily observable than later rupture stages. Despite this relative simplicity, the observational basis for rupture onsets is unclear. Numerous reports of evidence for magnitude-dependent rupture onsets (which imply deterministic rupture behavior, e.g. Colombelli et al., 2014) stand in contradiction to a large body of physics-based rupture modeling efforts, which are mostly based on inherently non-deterministic principles (e.g. Rice, 1993). Here we make use of the abundance of short-distance recordings available today; a magnitude-dependency of onsets should appear most prominently in such recordings. We use a simple method to demonstrate that all ruptures in the studied magnitude range (4 < M < 8) share a universal initial rupture behavior and discuss ensuing implications for physical rupture processes and earthquake early warning.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemSupplemental material: waveform dataset
Meier, Men-Andrin0000-0002-2949-8602
Heaton, Thomas0000-0003-3363-2197
Clinton, John F.0000-0001-8626-2703
Additional Information:©2016. American Geophysical Union. Received 18 JUN 2016. Accepted 26 JUL 2016. Accepted article online 29 JUL 2016. Published online 14 AUG 2016. We are grateful to Hiroo Kanamori, Nadia Lapusta, Jean-Paul Ampuero, Nicolas Deichmann, Shunta Noda, Yannik Behr, Alice Gabriel, Stephen Perry, and Natalie Higgins for discussions that helped to advance this project, and to Chaoyong Peng for the help with the Wenchuan earthquake data. This work was partly funded by ETH Zurich ETHIIRA grant ETH-22 10-3. The Japanese waveform data can be downloaded from (last accessed August 2015). We used the Seismic Transfer Program tool from stp-index.html (last accessed September 2014) to retrieve Southern California waveform, catalog, and arrival time data. The Next Generation Attenuation-West 1 waveform and metadata were obtained from (last accessed March 2014). The Wenchuan record was obtained from (last accessed June 2015). The SBPx-algorithm was published as SBPx.m on (last accessed July 2015).
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
ETH ZurichETH-22 10-3
Issue or Number:15
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160729-091315832
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Meier, M.-A., T. Heaton, and J. Clinton (2016), Evidence for universal earthquake rupture initiation behavior, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 7991–7996, doi:10.1002/2016GL070081.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:69301
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:29 Jul 2016 16:25
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:12

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