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Dynamic Rupture Simulations Based on the Characterized Source Model of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake

Tsuda, Kenichi and Iwase, Satoshi and Uratani, Hiroaki and Ogawa, Sachio and Watanabe, Takahide and Miyakoshi, Jun’ichi and Ampuero, Jean Paul (2017) Dynamic Rupture Simulations Based on the Characterized Source Model of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. Pure and Applied Geophysics, 174 (9). pp. 3357-3368. ISSN 0033-4553. doi:10.1007/s00024-016-1446-1.

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The 2011 Off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku earthquake (Tohoku earthquake, M_w 9.0) occurred on the Japan Trench and caused a devastating tsunami. Studies of this earthquake have revealed complex features of its rupture process. In particular, the shallow parts of the fault (near the trench) hosted large slip and long period seismic wave radiation, whereas the deep parts of the rupture (near the coast) hosted smaller slip and strong radiation of short period seismic waves. Understanding such depth-dependent feature of the rupture process of the Tohoku earthquake is necessary as it may occur during future mega-thrust earthquakes in this and other regions. In this study, we investigate the “characterized source model” of the Tohoku earthquake through dynamic rupture simulations. This source model divides the fault plane into several parts characterized by different size and frictional strength (main asperity, background area, etc.) and is widely used in Japan for the prediction of strong ground motion and tsunami through kinematic rupture simulations. Our characterized source model of the Tohoku earthquake comprises a large shallow asperity with moderate frictional strength, small deep asperities with high frictional strength, a background area with low frictional strength, and an area with dynamic weakening close to the trench (low dynamic friction coefficient as arising from, e.g., thermal pressurization). The results of our dynamic rupture simulation reproduce the main depth-dependent feature of the rupture process of the Tohoku earthquake. We also find that the width of the area close to the trench (equal to the distance from the trench to the shallow asperity, interpreted as the size of the accretionary prism) and the presence of dynamic weakening in this area have a significant influence on the final slip distribution. These results are useful to construct characterized source models for other subduction zones with different scale of the accretionary prism, such as the Chile subduction zone and the Nankai Trough. Dynamic rupture simulations based on the characterized source model might provide useful insights for hazard assessment associated with future mega-thrust earthquakes.

Item Type:Article
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Ampuero, Jean Paul0000-0002-4827-7987
Additional Information:© 2017 The Author(s). This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. Received: 31 July 2016; Revised: 10 November 2016; Accepted: 28 November 2016. First Online: 11 January 2017. Discussions with Prof. Kelin Wang and David Oglesby helped improve the draft. We also appreciated very constructive comments by Dr. Luis Dalguer (guest editor) and two anonymous reviewers to elaborate the manuscript.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Subject Keywords:The 2011 Off the Pacific Coast of Tohoku earthquake; characterized source model; dynamic rupture simulations; dynamic weakening; accretionary prism
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170509-140621134
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Official Citation:Tsuda, K., Iwase, S., Uratani, H. et al. Pure Appl. Geophys. (2017) 174: 3357.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:77311
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:12 May 2017 23:22
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:29

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