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Finite difference modeling of rupture propagation with strong velocity-weakening friction

Otilio J. Rojas, Eric M. Dunham, Steven M. Day, & Luis A. Dalguer

Published 2009, SCEC Contribution #1315

We incorporate rate- and state-dependent friction in explicit finite difference (FD) simulations of mode II dynamic ruptures in elastic media, using the Mimetic Operators Split-Node (MOSN) method, with adjustable order of spatial accuracy (second-, fourth-, or mixed-order accurate), including an option that is fourth-order accurate at the fault discontinuity as well as in the elastic volume. At fault points, the rate and state equations combined with the spatially discretized momentum conservation equations form a coupled system of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) for slip velocity and state variable. As a consequence of the rapid damping of velocity perturbations due to the direct effect, this system exhibits numerical stiffness that is inversely proportional to velocity squared. Approximate solutions to this velocity-state system are achieved by two different implicit schemes: (i) a fourth-order Rosenbrock integration of the full system using multiple substeps, and (ii) low order integrations (backward Euler and trapezoidal) of the velocity equation, time-staggered with analytic integration of the state equation under the approximation of constant slip velocity over the time step. In assessing the numerical schemes, we use three test problems: ruptures with frictional resistance controlled by (i) a slip evolution law with strong velocity-weakening behavior at high slip rates, representing thermal weakening due to flash heating of microscopic asperity contacts, (ii) the classic (low-velocity) slip evolution law, and (iii) the classic aging evolution law. A convergence analysis is carried out using reference solutions from a spectral boundary integral equation method (BIEM) (a method restricted to homogeneous media, with nominal spectral accuracy in space and second-order accuracy in time for smooth solutions). Errors are measured by root-mean-square differences of fault-plane time histories (slip, slip rate, traction, and state). MOSN shows essentially the same convergence rates as BIEM: second-order convergence for slip and state-variable misfits, with slower (but at least first-order) convergence for slip rates and tractions. For a given grid spacing, fourth-order MOSN is as accurate as BIEM for all variables except slip-rate. MOSN-Rosenbrock nominally has fourth-order temporal accuracy for the fault-plane velocity-state ODE integration (compared to lower-order accuracy for the other two MOSN schemes) and therefore provides an important theoretical benchmark. However, it is sensitive to details of the elastic calculation scheme and occasionally its adaptive substepping performs poorly, leading to large excursions from the reference solution. In contrast, MOSN-trapezoidal is robust and reliable, much easier to implement than MOSN-Rosenbrock, and in all cases achieves precision as good as the latter without recourse to substepping. MOSN-Euler has the same advantages as MOSN-trapezoidal, except that its nominal first-order temporal accuracy ultimately leads to larger errors in slip and state variable compared with the higher-order MOSN schemes at sufficiently small grid spacings and time steps.

Key Words
finite difference analysis, friction, slip rates, simulation, rock mechanics, models, rupture, velocity, propagation, algorithms, tectonics, earthquakes, faults, seismotectonics

Rojas, O. J., Dunham, E. M., Day, S. M., & Dalguer, L. A. (2009). Finite difference modeling of rupture propagation with strong velocity-weakening friction. Geophysical Journal International, 179, 1831-1858. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04387.x.