skip to main content


Title: Earthquake Sequence Dynamics at the Interface Between an Elastic Layer and Underlying Half‐Space in Antiplane Shear
Abstract

We quantify sliding stability and rupture styles for a horizontal interface between an elastic layer and stiffer elastic half‐space with a free surface on top and rate‐and‐state friction on the interface. This geometry includes shallowly dipping subduction zones, landslides, and ice streams. Specific motivation comes from quasiperiodic slow slip events on the Whillans Ice Plain in West Antarctica. We quantify the influence of layer thickness on sliding stability, specifically whether a steadily loaded system produces steady sliding or stick‐slip sequences. We do this using both linear stability analysis and nonlinear earthquake sequence simulations. We restrict our attention to the 2‐D antiplane shear problem but anticipate that our findings generalize to more complex 2‐D in‐plane and 3‐D problems. Steady sliding with velocity‐weakening rate‐and‐state friction is linearly unstable to Fourier mode perturbations having wavelengths greater than a critical wavelength (λc). We quantify the dependence ofλcon the rate‐and‐state friction parameters, elastic properties, loading, and the layer thickness (H). Confirming previous studies, we find thatλc ∝ H1/2for smallHand is independent ofHfor largeH. The linear stability analysis provides insight into nonlinear earthquake sequence dynamics of a nominally velocity‐strengthening interface containing a velocity‐weakening region of widthW. Sequence simulations reveal a transition from steady sliding at smallWto stick‐slip events whenWexceeds a critical width (Wcr), withWcr ∝ H1/2for smallH. Overall, this study demonstrates that the reduced stiffness of thin layers promotes instability, with implications for sliding dynamics in thin layer geometries.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10447737
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume:
125
Issue:
12
ISSN:
2169-9313
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Fault friction is central to understanding earthquakes, yet laboratory rock mechanics experiments are restricted to, at most, meter scale. Questions thus remain as to the applicability of measured frictional properties to faulting in situ. In particular, the slip-weakening distance d c strongly influences precursory slip during earthquake nucleation, but scales with fault roughness and is challenging to extrapolate to nature. The 2018 eruption of Kīlauea volcano, Hawaii, caused 62 repeatable collapse events in which the summit caldera dropped several meters, accompanied by M W 4.7 to 5.4 very long period (VLP) earthquakes. Collapses were exceptionally well recorded by global positioning system (GPS) and tilt instruments and represent unique natural kilometer-scale friction experiments. We model a piston collapsing into a magma reservoir. Pressure at the piston base and shear stress on its margin, governed by rate and state friction, balance its weight. Downward motion of the piston compresses the underlying magma, driving flow to the eruption. Monte Carlo estimation of unknowns validates laboratory friction parameters at the kilometer scale, including the magnitude of steady-state velocity weakening. The absence of accelerating precollapse deformation constrains d c to be ≤ 10 mm, potentially much less. These results support the use of laboratory friction laws and parameters for modeling earthquakes. We identify initial conditions and material and magma-system parameters that lead to episodic caldera collapse, revealing that small differences in eruptive vent elevation can lead to major differences in eruption volume and duration. Most historical basaltic caldera collapses were, at least partly, episodic, implying that the conditions for stick–slip derived here are commonly met in nature. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Establishing a constitutive law for fault friction is a crucial objective of earthquake science. However, the complex frictional behavior of natural and synthetic gouges in laboratory experiments eludes explanations. Here, we present a constitutive framework that elucidates the rate, state, and temperature dependence of fault friction under the relevant sliding velocities and temperatures of the brittle lithosphere during seismic cycles. The competition between healing mechanisms, such as viscoelastic collapse, pressure‐solution creep, and crack sealing, explains the low‐temperature stability transition from steady‐state velocity‐strengthening to velocity‐weakening as a function of slip‐rate and temperature. In addition, capturing the transition from cataclastic flow to semi‐brittle creep accounts for the stabilization of fault slip at elevated temperatures. We calibrate the model using extensive laboratory data on synthetic albite and granite gouge, and on natural samples from the Alpine Fault and the Mugi Mélange in the Shimanto accretionary complex in Japan. The constitutive model consistently explains the evolving frictional response of fault gouge from room temperature to 600°C for sliding velocities ranging from nanometers to millimeters per second. The frictional response of faults can be uniquely determined by the in situ lithology and the prevailing hydrothermal conditions.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Rate and state frictional parameters are typically determined using two types of experimental protocols: velocity steps and slide‐hold‐slide events. Here we take a new approach by examining the frictional response to controlled, harmonic oscillations in load point velocity. We present a Matlab graphical user interface software package, called RSFitOSC, that allows users to easily determine frictional parameters by fitting oscillation events using the rate and state friction equations. We apply our new methods to a set of ice‐rock friction experiments conducted over a temperature range of −16.4°C to −2°C, and described in a companion paper: McCarthy et al. (2021,https://doi.org/10.1002/essoar.10509831.110.1002/essoar.10509831.1). Values of the frictional stability parameter (ab) determined from oscillations reveal dominantly velocity‐weakening behavior across the entire range of experimental conditions. However, values of (a–b) determined from velocity steps in the same experiments yield velocity‐strengthening behavior. We also show that the elastic stiffness of the ice‐rock system depends on the temperature, and is unlikely to be explained by changes in the elastic properties of ice. Load point velocity oscillations induce oscillations in applied shear stress. Many natural fault systems exhibit slip behaviors that depend on harmonic oscillations in applied tidal stresses. Our new method provides a way to study how frictional properties directly depend on parameters relevant to tidal forcing, and how oscillatory loading must be considered when extracting friction parameters.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The large magnitude of the 2011Mw9.0 Tohoku‐Oki earthquake, which occurred off the east coast of Japan, was not expected or predicted by any previous studies. One surprising observation was the sudden change in stress state; local earthquakes confirmed a compressional stress state before the main shock, whereas an extensional stress state was evident after the main shock. Using discrete element method modeling, this project attempts to reproduce the stress change after the main shock, and explores the conditions that can cause stress switching both onshore and offshore Tohoku. Our simulations demonstrate that rapid fault weakening can produce stress change and predominant normal‐fault earthquake mechanisms in the upper plate of Tohoku‐Oki. Several specific conditions seem to favor such stress switching; the megathrust fault must have been frictionally strong before the main shock, and comparable values of internal (μinternal) and basal friction (μbasal) are necessary to cause the formation of widespread normal faults within the wedge. Furthermore, dynamic extension during elastic unloading appears to play an important role in accommodating stress changes and wedge deformation in the Tohoku area; these cannot be explained solely based on Critical Coulomb Wedge models, but instead require dynamic unloading processes.

     
    more » « less
  5. Basal slip along glaciers and ice streams can be significantly modified by external time-dependent forcing, although it is not clear why some systems are more sensitive to tidal stresses. We have conducted a series of laboratory experiments to explore the effect of time varying load point velocity on ice-on-rock friction. Varying the load point velocity induces shear stress forcing, making this an analogous simulation of aspects of ice stream tidal modulation. Ambient pressure, double-direct shear experiments were conducted in a cryogenic servo-controlled biaxial deformation apparatus at temperatures between −2°C and −16°C. In addition to a background, median velocity (1 and 10 μm/s), a sinusoidal velocity was applied to the central sliding sample over a range of periods and amplitudes. Normal stress was held constant over each run (0.1, 0.5 or 1 MPa) and the shear stress was measured. Over the range of parameters studied, the full spectrum of slip behavior from creeping to slow-slip to stick-slip was observed, similar to the diversity of sliding styles observed in Antarctic and Greenland ice streams. Under conditions in which the amplitude of oscillation is equal to the median velocity, significant healing occurs as velocity approaches zero, causing a high-amplitude change in friction. The amplitude of the event increases with increasing period (i.e. hold time). At high normal stress, velocity oscillations force an otherwise stable system to behave unstably, with consistently-timed events during every cycle. Rate-state friction parameters determined from velocity steps show that the ice-rock interface is velocity strengthening. A companion paper describes a method of analyzing the oscillatory data directly. Forward modeling of a sinusoidally-driven slider block, using rate-and-state dependent friction formulation and experimentally derived parameters, successfully predicts the experimental output in all but a few cases. 
    more » « less