Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!

Off-Fault Plasticity and Earthquake Rupture Dynamics, 1. Dry Materials or Neglect of Fluid Pressure Changes

Elizabeth L. Templeton, & James R. Rice

Published September 16, 2008, SCEC Contribution #1193

We analyze inelastic off-fault response during earthquakes. Spontaneous crack-like rupture, with slip-weakening, is modeled in 2D plane strain using an explicit dynamic finite element procedure. A Mohr-Coulomb type elastic-plastic description describes the material bordering the fault. We identify the factors which control the extent and distribution of off-fault plasticity during dynamic rupture. Those include the angle with the fault of the maximum compressive pre-stress, the seismic S ratio, and the closeness of the initial stress state to Mohr-Coulomb failure. Plastic response can significantly alter the rupture propagation velocity, delaying or even preventing a transition to supershear rupture in some cases. Plastic straining also alters the residual stress field left near the fault. In Part 1, we consider "dry" materials bordering the fault, or at least neglect pore pressure changes within them. Part 2, addresses the effects of fluid saturation, showing that analysis procedures of this part can describe undrained fluid-saturated response. Elastic-plastic laws of the type used are prone to shear localization, resulting in an inherent grid dependence in some numerical solutions. We show nevertheless, in the problems addressed, that the overall sizes of plastic regions and dynamics of rupture propagation seem little different from what is obtained when we increase the assumed plastic hardening modulus or dilatancy parameter above the theoretical threshold for localization, obtaining a locally smooth numerical solution at the grid scale. Evidence for scaling of some localization features with a real (non-grid) length scale in the model is also presented.

Key Words
fault mechanics, Mohr Coulomb, rupture dynamics, localization of deformation, earthquakes, elastic-plastic

Templeton, E. L., & Rice, J. R. (2008). Off-Fault Plasticity and Earthquake Rupture Dynamics, 1. Dry Materials or Neglect of Fluid Pressure Changes. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 113(B9). doi: 10.1029/2007JB005529.