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Three-dimensional boundary integral modeling of spontaneous earthquake sequences and aseismic slip

Nadia Lapusta, & Yi Liu

Published 2009, SCEC Contribution #1254

Fault processes involve complex patterns of seismic events and aseismic slip. This work develops a three-dimensional (3D) methodology for simulating long-term history of spontaneous seismic and aseismic slip on a vertical planar strike-slip fault subjected to slow tectonic loading. Our approach reproduces all stages of earthquake cycles, from accelerating slip before dynamic instability, to rapid dynamic propagation of earthquake rupture, to post-seismic slip, and to interseismic creep, including aseismic transients. We use the developed 3D methodology to study interaction of fault slip with a small patch of higher normal stress over long-term slip history. For uniform initial prestress, dynamic rupture is significantly affected by the stronger patch in the first simulated event but not in subsequent ones. The change in behavior is due to redistribution of shear stress by prior slip, which demonstrates that distributions of fault strength and stress are related and illustrates the importance of simulating long slip histories even in studies of dynamic rupture. Despite no long-term effect on dynamic rupture, the small patch of higher normal stress influences nucleation processes and hence long-term slip patterns in the model. Comparison of the fully dynamic simulations and a widely used quasi-dynamic approach shows that the quasi-dynamic approach modifies long-term slip patterns in addition to resulting in much smaller slip velocities and rupture speeds during dynamic events. We show that the response of quasi-dynamic formulations with reduced radiation damping terms can be scaled to match the results of the standard quasi-dynamic formulation and hence cannot improve the comparison.

Lapusta, N., & Liu, Y. (2009). Three-dimensional boundary integral modeling of spontaneous earthquake sequences and aseismic slip. Journal of Geophysical Research, 114. doi: 10.1029/2008JB005934.