The finite, kinematic rupture properties of great-sized earthquakes since 1990

Earth and Planetary Science Letters



Here, I present a database of >160 finite fault models for all earthquakes of M 7.5 and above since 1990, created using a consistent modeling approach. The use of a common approach facilitates easier comparisons between models, and reduces uncertainties that arise when comparing models generated by different authors, data sets and modeling techniques.

I use this database to verify published scaling relationships, and for the first time show a clear and intriguing relationship between maximum potency (the product of slip and area) and average potency for a given earthquake. This relationship implies that earthquakes do not reach the potential size given by the tectonic load of a fault (sometimes called “moment deficit,” calculated via a plate rate over time since the last earthquake, multiplied by geodetic fault coupling). Instead, average potency (or slip) scales with but is less than maximum potency (dictated by tectonic loading). Importantly, this relationship facilitates a more accurate assessment of maximum earthquake size for a given fault segment, and thus has implications for long-term hazard assessments. The relationship also suggests earthquake cycles may not completely reset after a large earthquake, and thus repeat rates of such events may appear shorter than is expected from tectonic loading. This in turn may help explain the phenomenon of “earthquake super-cycles” observed in some global subduction zones.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The finite, kinematic rupture properties of great-sized earthquakes since 1990
Series title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
DOI 10.1016/j.epsl.2017.04.003
Volume 468
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 94
Last page 100
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