Rapid acceleration leads to rapid weakening in earthquake-like laboratory experiments

Science
By: , and 

Links

Abstract

After nucleation, a large earthquake propagates as an expanding rupture front along a fault. This front activates countless fault patches that slip by consuming energy stored in Earth’s crust. We simulated the slip of a fault patch by rapidly loading an experimental fault with energy stored in a spinning flywheel. The spontaneous evolution of strength, acceleration, and velocity indicates that our experiments are proxies of fault-patch behavior during earthquakes of moment magnitude (Mw) = 4 to 8. We show that seismically determined earthquake parameters (e.g., displacement, velocity, magnitude, or fracture energy) can be used to estimate the intensity of the energy release during an earthquake. Our experiments further indicate that high acceleration imposed by the earthquake’s rupture front quickens dynamic weakening by intense wear of the fault zone.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Rapid acceleration leads to rapid weakening in earthquake-like laboratory experiments
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.1221195
Volume 338
Issue 6103
Year Published 2012
Language English
Publisher Science
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 5 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Science
First page 101
Last page 105