The maximum slip, observed or inferred, for a small patch within the larger fault zone of an earthquake is a remarkably well-constrained function of the seismic moment. A large set of maximum slips, mostly derived from slip models of major earthquakes, indicate that this parameter increases according to the cube root of the seismic moment. Consistent with this finding, neither the average slip rate for the patches of maximum slip nor the apparent stresses of earthquakes show any systematic dependence on seismic moment. Maximum average slip rates are several meters per second independent of moment and, for earthquakes in continental crustal settings, the apparent stress is limited to about 10 MPa. Results from stick-slip friction experiments in the laboratory, combined with information about the state of stress in the crust, can be used to predict, quite closely, the maximum slips and maximum average slip rates within the fault zones of major earthquakes as well as their apparent stresses. These findings suggest that stick-slip friction events observed in the laboratory and earthquakes in continental settings, even with large magnitudes, have similar rupture mechanisms.
Additional publication details
Maximum slip in earthquake fault zones, apparent stress, and stick-slip friction