skip to main content

Title: What Controls Variations in Aftershock Productivity?

The number of aftershocks increases with mainshock size following a well‐defined scaling law. However, excursions from the average behavior are common. This variability is particularly concerning for large earthquakes where the number of aftershocks varies by factors of 100 for mainshocks of comparable magnitude. Do observable factors lead to differences in aftershock behavior? We examine aftershock productivity relative to the global average for all mainshocks () from 1990 to 2019. A global map of earthquake productivity highlights the influence of tectonic regimes. Earthquake depth, lithosphere age, and plate boundary type correspond well with earthquake productivity. We investigate the role of mainshock attributes by compiling source dimensions, radiated seismic energy, stress drop, and a measure of slip heterogeneity based on finite‐fault source inversions for the largest earthquakes from 1990 to 2017. On an individual basis, stress drop, normalized rupture width, and aspect ratio most strongly correlate with aftershock productivity. A multivariate analysis shows that a particular set of parameters (dip, lithospheric age, and normalized rupture area) combines well to improve predictions of aftershock productivity on a cross‐validated data set. Our overall analysis is consistent with a model in which the volumetric abundance of nearby stressed faults controls the more » aftershock productivity rather than variations in source stress. Thus, we suggest a complementary approach to aftershock forecasts based on geological and rupture properties rather than local calibration alone.

« less
 ;  ;  ;  
Award ID(s):
1802364 1761987
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    We compare source parameter estimates for earthquakes in the 2011 Prague Mw 5.7, Oklahoma, sequence to investigate random uncertainty and systematic bias, and resolve reliable relative variations in stress drop. Source parameters provide insight into the earthquake rupture processes but large variations between studies occur. The Prague earthquake sequence is a prime example of this, with different studies reaching contrasting interpretations of the effects of injection on source parameters. We examine the Prague earthquake sequence using a single coherent catalog for all the events detected by the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) and McMahon et al. (2017). We use three principal approaches to estimate stress drop in order to understand the biases of each: a spectral decomposition method based on stacking, individual event spectral modeling, and a spectral ratio method based on highly correlated events. We also compare our results with previous studies for the Prague sequences aftershocks, as well as past results for the Mw 4.8 foreshock and Mw 4.8 aftershock and Mw 5.7 mainshock. The absolute values of stress drop vary significantly between methods, but the relative patterns remain consistent, except when low quality or low bandwidth data are included. The consistent relative patterns reveal that the stress drops ofmore »aftershocks are dependent on the fault orientation and the proximity of the events to the mainshocks slip. These results indicate that fault structure as well as past events play an important role in stress drop patterns.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    The 2021MW6.0 Yangbi, Yunnan strike‐slip earthquake occurred on an unmapped crustal fault near the Weixi‐Qiaoho‐Weishan Fault along the southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Using near‐source broadband seismic data from ChinArray, we investigate the spatial and temporal rupture evolution of the mainshock using apparent moment‐rate functions (AMRFs) determined by the empirical Green's function (EGF) method. Assuming a 1D line source on the fault plane, the rupture propagated unilaterally southeastward (∼144°) over a rupture length of ∼8.0 km with an estimated rupture speed of 2.1 km/s to 2.4 km/s. A 2D coseismic slip distribution for an assumed maximum rupture propagation speed of 2.2 km/s indicates that the rupture propagated to the southeast ∼8.0 km along strike and ∼5.0 km downdip with a peak slip of ∼2.1 m before stopping near the largest foreshock, where three bifurcating subfaults intersect. Using the AMRFs, the radiated energy of the mainshock is estimated as ∼. The relatively low moment scaled radiated energyof 1.5 × 10−5and intense foreshock and aftershock activity might indicate reactivation of an immature fault. The earthquake sequence is mainly distributed along a northwest‐southeast trend, and aftershocks and foreshocks are distributed near the periphery of the mainshock large‐slip area, suggesting that the stress in the mainshock slipmore »zone is significantly reduced to below the level for more than a few overlapping aftershock to occur.

    « less
  3. Abstract

    Understanding earthquake foreshocks is essential for deciphering earthquake rupture physics and can aid seismic hazard mitigation. With regional dense seismic arrays, we identify immediate foreshocks of 527 0.9M5.4 events of the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence, including 48 earthquakes with series of immediate foreshocks. These immediate foreshocks are adjacent to the mainshocks occurring within 100 s of the mainshocks, and their P waves share high resemblances with the mainshock P waves. However, attributes of the immediate‐foreshock P waves, including the amplitudes and preceding times, do not clearly scale with the mainshock magnitudes. Our observations suggest that earthquake rupture may initiate in a universal fashion but evolves stochastically. This indicates that earthquake rupture development is likely controlled by fine‐scale fault heterogeneities in the Ridgecrest fault system, and the final magnitude is the only difference between small and large earthquakes.

  4. Abstract

    Static stress transfer from major earthquakes is commonly invoked as the primary mechanism for triggering aftershocks, but evaluating this mechanism depends on aftershock rupture plane orientations and hypocenter locations, which are often subject to significant observational uncertainty. We evaluate static stress change for an unusually large data set comprising hundreds to thousands of aftershocks following the 1997 Umbria‐Marche, 2009 L’Aquila (Italy), and 2019 Ridgecrest (California) earthquake sequences. We compare failure stress resolved on aftershock focal mechanism planes and planes that are optimally oriented (OOPs) in the regional and earthquake perturbed stress field. Like previous studies, we find that failure stress resolved on OOPs overpredicts the percentage (>70%) of triggered aftershocks relative to that predicted from observed aftershock rupture planes (∼50%–65%) from focal mechanisms solutions, independent of how nodal plane ambiguity is resolved. Further, observed aftershock nodal planes appear statistically different from OOPs. Observed rupture planes, at least for larger magnitude events (M > 3), appear to align more closely with pre‐existing tectonic structures. The inferred observational uncertainty associated with nodal plane ambiguity, plane orientation, and, to second order, hypocentral location yields a broad range of aftershocks potentially triggered by static stress changes, ranging from slightly better than random chance to nearlymore »any aftershock promoted, particularly those further than 5 km from the causative fault. Dynamic stresses, afterslip, pore fluids, and other sources of unresolved small‐scale heterogeneity in the post‐mainshock stress field may also contribute appreciably to aftershock occurrence closer to the mainshock.

    « less

    Earthquakes come in clusters formed of mostly aftershock sequences, swarms and occasional foreshock sequences. This clustering is thought to result either from stress transfer among faults, a process referred to as cascading, or from transient loading by aseismic slip (pre-slip, afterslip or slow slip events). The ETAS statistical model is often used to quantify the fraction of clustering due to stress transfer and to assess the eventual need for aseismic slip to explain foreshocks or swarms. Another popular model of clustering relies on the earthquake nucleation model derived from experimental rate-and-state friction. According to this model, earthquakes cluster because they are time-advanced by the stress change imparted by the mainshock. This model ignores stress interactions among aftershocks and cannot explain foreshocks or swarms in the absence of transient loading. Here, we analyse foreshock, swarm and aftershock sequences resulting from cascades in a Discrete Fault Network model governed by rate-and-state friction. We show that the model produces realistic swarms, foreshocks and aftershocks. The Omori law, characterizing the temporal decay of aftershocks, emerges in all simulations independently of the assumed initial condition. In our simulations, the Omori law results from the earthquake nucleation process due to rate and state friction andmore »from the heterogeneous stress changes due to the coseismic stress transfers. By contrast, the inverse Omori law, which characterizes the accelerating rate of foreshocks, emerges only in the simulations with a dense enough fault system. A high-density complex fault zone favours fault interactions and the emergence of an accelerating sequence of foreshocks. Seismicity catalogues generated with our discrete fault network model can generally be fitted with the ETAS model but with some material differences. In the discrete fault network simulations, fault interactions are weaker in aftershock sequences because they occur in a broader zone of lower fault density and because of the depletion of critically stressed faults. The productivity of the cascading process is, therefore, significantly higher in foreshocks than in aftershocks if fault zone complexity is high. This effect is not captured by the ETAS model of fault interactions. It follows that a foreshock acceleration stronger than expected from ETAS statistics does not necessarily require aseismic slip preceding the mainshock (pre-slip). It can be a manifestation of a cascading process enhanced by the topological properties of the fault network. Similarly, earthquake swarms might not always imply transient loading by aseismic slip, as they can emerge from stress interactions.

    « less