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The Organization of Seismicity on Fault Networks

Leon Knopoff

Published April 30, 1996, SCEC Contribution #323

Although models of homogeneous faults develop seismicity that has a Gutenberg-Richter distribution, this is only a transient state that is followed by events that are strongly influenced by the nature of the boundaries. Models with geometrical inhomogeneities of fracture thresholds can limit the sizes of earthquakes but now favor the characteristic earthquake model for large earthquakes. The character of the seismicity is extremely sensitive to distributions of inhomogeneities, suggesting that statistical rules for large earthquakes in one region may not be applicable to large earthquakes in another region. Model simulations on simple networks of faults with inhomogeneities of threshold develop episodes of lacunarity on all members of the network. There is no validity to the popular assumption that the average rate of slip on individual faults is a constant. Intermediate term precursory activity such as local quiescence and increases in intermediate-magnitude activity at long range are simulated well by the assumption that strong weakening of faults by injection of fluids and weakening of asperities on inhomogeneous models of fault networks is the dominant process; the heat flow paradox, the orientation of the stress field, and the low average stress drop in some earthquakes are understood in terms of the asperity model of inhomogeneous faulting.

Knopoff, L. (1996). The Organization of Seismicity on Fault Networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 93(9), 3830-3837.