Scaling relations of earthquakes and aseismic deformation in a damage rheology model

Vladimir Lyakhovsky, & Yehuda Ben-Zion

Published November 2007, SCEC Contribution #1374

We perform analytical and numerical studies of scaling relations of earthquakes and partition of elastic strain energy between seismic and aseismic components using a thermodynamically based continuum damage model. Brittle instabilities occur in the model at critical damage level associated with loss of convexity of the strain energy function. A new procedure is developed for calculating stress drop and plastic strain in regions sustaining brittle instabilities. The formulation connects the damage rheology parameters with dynamic friction of simpler frameworks, and the plastic strain accumulation is governed by a procedure that is equivalent to Drucker–Prager plasticity. The numerical simulations use variable boundary forces proportional to the slip-deficit between the assumed far field plate motion and displacement of the boundary nodes. These boundary conditions account for the evolution of elastic properties and plastic strain in the model region. 3-D simulations of earthquakes in a model with a large strike-slip fault produce scaling relations between the scalar seismic potency, rupture area, and stress drop values that are in good agreement with observations and other theoretical studies. The area and potency of the simulated earthquakes generally follow a linear log–log relation with a slope of 2/3, and are associated with stress drop values between 1 and 10 MPa. A parameter-space study shows that the area-potency scaling is shifted to higher stress drops in simulations with parameters corresponding to lower dynamic friction, more efficient healing, and higher degree of seismic coupling.

Lyakhovsky, V., & Ben-Zion, Y. (2007). Scaling relations of earthquakes and aseismic deformation in a damage rheology model. Geophysical Journal International, 172(2), 651-662. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03652.x.