The heat generated in a slip zone during an earthquake can raise fluid pressure and thereby reduce frictional resistance to slip. The amount of fluid pressure rise depends on the associated fluid flow. The heat generated at a given time produces fluid pressure that decreases inversely with the square root of hydraulic diffusivity times the elapsed time. If the slip velocity function is crack-like, there is a prompt fluid pressure rise at the onset of slip, followed by a slower increase. The stress drop associated with the prompt fluid pressure rise increases with rupture propagation distance. The threshold propagation distance at which thermally induced stress drop starts to dominate over frictionally induced stress drop is proportional to hydraulic diffusivity. If hydraulic diffusivity is 0.02 m2/s, estimated from borehole samples of fault zone material, the threshold propagation distance is 300 m. The stress wave in an earthquake will induce an unknown amount of dilatancy and will increase hydraulic diffusivity, both of which will lessen the fluid pressure effect. Nevertheless, if hydraulic diffusivity is no more than two orders of magnitude larger than the laboratory value, then stress drop is complete in large earthquakes.
Additional publication details
A fault constitutive relation accounting for thermal pressurization of pore fluid