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Giant earthquakes on quiet faults governed by rheological transitions

van den Ende, Martijn P. A. and Chen, Jianye and Ampuero, Jean-Paul and Niemeijer, André R. (2018) Giant earthquakes on quiet faults governed by rheological transitions. . (Submitted)

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The apparent stochastic nature of earthquakes poses major challenges for earthquake forecasting attempts. Physical constraints on the seismogenic potential of major fault zones may greatly aid in improving seismic hazard assessments, but the mechanics of earthquake nucleation and rupture are obscured by the enormous complexity that natural faults display. In this study, we investigate the mechanisms behind giant earthquakes by employing a microphysically based seismic cycle simulator. This microphysical approach is directly based on the mechanics of friction as inferred from laboratory tests, and can explain a broad spectrum of fault slip behaviour. We show that exceptionally large, fault-spanning earthquakes are governed by different micro-scale mechanisms than regular (small) earthquakes. More importantly, the stress-driven transition from ductile creep to granular flow facilitates the nucleation of giant earthquakes on faults that are otherwise seismically quiet. This microphysically based approach offers new opportunities for investigating long-term seismic cycle behaviour of natural faults.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper Paper
Ampuero, Jean-Paul0000-0002-4827-7987
Additional Information:CC-By Attribution 4.0 International. MvdE thanks A. Fagereng for sharing his views on fault zone structure. This project is supported by the European Research Council (ERC), grant no. 335915, and by the NWO Vidi-grant 854.12.001 awarded to A.R. Niemeijer. JPA acknowledges supplemental funding to NSF CAREER grant EAR-1151926 for research opportunities in Europe. Author Contributions: All authors contributed in the design of the study. MvdE carried out the numerical simulations and prepared the manuscript. All authors discussed the model results and interpretations, and commented on the manuscript. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Group:Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
European Research Council (ERC)335915
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)854.12.001
Subject Keywords:Physical Sciences and Mathematics; Earth Sciences; Geophysics and Seismology; Geology
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180410-102006492
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Official Citation:van den Ende, Martijn, Jianye Chen, Jean-Paul Ampuero, and André Niemeijer “Giant Earthquakes On Quiet Faults Governed By Rheological Transitions.” Openvan den Ende, Martijn et al. “Giant Earthquakes on Quiet Faults Governed by Rheological Transitions”. EarthArXiv, 27 Mar. 2018. Web.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:85723
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Apr 2018 18:19
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 19:34

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