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Published December 20, 2017 | Published + Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Induced seismicity provides insight into why earthquake ruptures stop


Injection-induced earthquakes pose a serious seismic hazard but also offer an opportunity to gain insight into earthquake physics. Currently used models relating the maximum magnitude of injection-induced earthquakes to injection parameters do not incorporate rupture physics. We develop theoretical estimates, validated by simulations, of the size of ruptures induced by localized pore-pressure perturbations and propagating on prestressed faults. Our model accounts for ruptures growing beyond the perturbed area and distinguishes self-arrested from runaway ruptures. We develop a theoretical scaling relation between the largest magnitude of self-arrested earthquakes and the injected volume and find it consistent with observed maximum magnitudes of injection-induced earthquakes over a broad range of injected volumes, suggesting that, although runaway ruptures are possible, most injection-induced events so far have been self-arrested ruptures.

Additional Information

Copyright © 2017 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). Submitted 23 August 2017; Accepted 22 November 2017; Published 20 December 2017. Research presented in this paper is supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (grants BAS/1339-01-01 and URF/1/2160-01-01) and by the NSF (CAREER award EAR-1151926). Some of the 3D dynamic rupture simulations for verification of our model have been carried out using the KAUST Supercomputing Laboratory. We thank the Agence Nationale de la Recherche through the HYDROSEIS project (Role of fluids and fault HYDROmechanics on SEISmic rupture) under contract ANR-13-JS06-0004-01 for supporting the in situ experiments providing the data (Duboeuf et al.) used in Fig. 4. We also thank S. Goodfellow and L. De Barros for providing their laboratory and in situ data used in Fig. 4. J.P.A. and F.C. thank the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur for supporting this research. Author contributions: M.G. and J.P.A. developed the main ideas, interpreted the results, and produced the manuscript. P.M.M. contributed to the discussions and interpretations of the results and commented on the manuscript at all stages. F.C. provided the data for Fig. 4, contributed to the discussions of the results, and commented on the manuscript at all stages. The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors.

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