Large earthquakes and creeping faults

Reviews of Geophysics
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Abstract

Faults are ubiquitous throughout the Earth's crust. The majority are silent for decades to centuries, until they suddenly rupture and produce earthquakes. With a focus on shallow continental active-tectonic regions, this paper reviews a subset of faults that have a different behavior. These unusual faults slowly creep for long periods of time and produce many small earthquakes. The presence of fault creep and the related microseismicity helps illuminate faults that might not otherwise be located in fine detail, but there is also the question of how creeping faults contribute to seismic hazard. It appears that well-recorded creeping fault earthquakes of up to magnitude 6.6 that have occurred in shallow continental regions produce similar fault-surface rupture areas and similar peak ground shaking as their locked fault counterparts of the same earthquake magnitude. The behavior of much larger earthquakes on shallow creeping continental faults is less well known, because there is a dearth of comprehensive observations. Computational simulations provide an opportunity to fill the gaps in our understanding, particularly of the dynamic processes that occur during large earthquake rupture and arrest.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Large earthquakes and creeping faults
Series title Reviews of Geophysics
DOI 10.1002/2016RG000539
Volume 55
Issue 1
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 30 p.
First page 169
Last page 198