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Published May 1978 | Published
Journal Article Open

Centrifuge modeling of earthquakes


The major problem in scale modeling of crustal tectonic processes, namely, the requirement for a brittle modeling material of extremely low strength (∼0.1 bar) can be overcome by doing model tests under artificial gravity in a centrifuge. When conditions of dynamic similarity are observed, scale modeling, because of its controlled nature, can be an important tool supplementing field investigation, theoretical study, and numerical simulation of crustal tectonic processes. Fracture events by simulated tectonic stress loading in a model thrust fault (model dimensions: 20 cm depth × 25 cm × 27 cm) have been generated when the model is subject to 50 g in a centrifuge of 1.53 m radius. Measurements obtained are: the total loading force, the stress change at one location inside the fault zone, and model seismic signals recorded on the model top surface. With use of a scaled brittle model material, the model scales up to a prototype approximately 2.2 km depth × 2.8 km × 3.0 km in dimensions.

Additional Information

Copyright 1978 by the American Geophysical Union. (Received February 14, 1978; accepted March 16, 1978.) Paper number 8L0290. We thank J. I. Mueller and W. D. Scott of the Ceramic Engineering Department, University of Washington, for the use of an Instron testing machine, H. Guldenmann for the use of the Physics Department machine shop at the University of Washington. We also thank R. M. Schmidt and J. G. King of the Boeing Aerospace Co., for their interest in the present work and their liaison and operation in our use of the Boeing centrifuge. This work was supported by NSF under Grant EAR76-21717.

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