Frictional constraints on crustal faulting

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
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We consider how variations in fault frictional properties affect the phenomenology of earthquake faulting. In particular, we propose that lateral variations in fault friction produce the marked heterogeneity of slip observed in large earthquakes. We model these variations using a rate- and state-dependent friction law, where we differentiate velocity-weakening behavior into two fields: the strong seismic field is very velocity weakening and the weak seismic field is slightly velocity weakening. Similarly, we differentiate velocity-strengthening behavior into two fields: the compliant field is slightly velocity strengthening and the viscous field is very velocity strengthening. The strong seismic field comprises the seismic slip concentrations, or asperities. The two "intermediate" fields, weak seismic and compliant, have frictional velocity dependences that are close to velocity neutral: these fields modulate both the tectonic loading and the dynamic rupture process. During the interseismic period, the weak seismic and compliant regions slip aseismically, while the strong seismic regions remain locked, evolving into stress concentrations that fail only in main shocks. The weak seismic areas exhibit most of the interseismic activity and aftershocks but can also creep seismically. This "mixed" frictional behavior can be obtained from a sufficiently heterogenous distribution of the critical slip distance. The model also provides a mechanism for rupture arrest: dynamic rupture fronts decelerate as they penetrate into unloaded complaint or weak seismic areas, producing broad areas of accelerated afterslip. Aftershocks occur on both the weak seismic and compliant areas around a fault, but most of the stress is diffused through aseismic slip. Rapid afterslip on these peripheral areas can also produce aftershocks within the main shock rupture area by reloading weak fault areas that slipped in the main shock and then healed. We test this frictional model by comparing the seismicity and the coseismic slip for the 1966 Parkfield, 1979 Coyote Lake, and 1984 Morgan Hill earthquakes. The interevent seismicity and aftershocks appear to occur on fault areas outside the regions of significant slip: these regions are interpreted as either weak seismic or compliant, depending on whether or not they manifest interevent seismicity.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Frictional constraints on crustal faulting
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Volume 101
Issue 6
Year Published 1996
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
First page 13895
Last page 13909