skip to main content

Title: Finite source properties of large strike-slip earthquakes

Earthquake ruptures are complex physical processes that may vary with the structure and tectonics of the region in which they occur. Characterizing the factors controlling this variability would provide fundamental constraints on the physics of earthquakes and faults. We investigate this by determining finite source properties from second moments of the stress glut for a global data set of large strike-slip earthquakes. Our approach uses a Bayesian inverse formulation with teleseismic body and surface waves, which yields a low-dimensional probabilistic description of rupture properties including the spatial deviation, directivity and temporal deviation of the source. This technique is useful for comparing events because it makes only minor geometric constraints, avoids bias due to rupture velocity parametrization and yields a full ensemble of possible solutions given the uncertainties of the data. We apply this framework to all great strike-slip earthquakes of the past three decades, and we use the resultant second moments to compare source quantities like directivity ratio, rectilinearity, average moment density and vertical deviation. We find that most strike-slip earthquakes have a large component of unilateral directivity, and many of these earthquakes show a mixture of unilateral and bilateral behaviour. We notice that oceanic intraplate earthquakes usually rupture a much larger width of the seismogenic zone than other strike-slip earthquakes, suggesting these earthquakes may often breach the expected thermal boundary for oceanic ruptures. We also use these second moments to resolve nodal plane ambiguity for the large oceanic intraplate earthquakes and find that the rupture orientation is usually unaligned with encompassing fossil fracture zones.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Geophysical Journal International
Medium: X Size: p. 889-903
["p. 889-903"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    The Húsavík‐Flatey Fault Zone (HFFZ) is the largest strike‐slip fault in Iceland and poses a high seismic risk to coastal communities. To investigate physics‐based constraints on earthquake hazards, we construct three fault system models of varying geometric complexity and model 79 3‐D multi‐fault dynamic rupture scenarios in the HFFZ. By assuming a simple regional prestress and varying hypocenter locations, we analyze the rupture dynamics, fault interactions, and the associated ground motions up to 2.5 Hz. All models account for regional seismotectonics, topo‐bathymetry, 3‐D subsurface velocity, viscoelastic attenuation, and off‐fault plasticity, and we explore the effect of fault roughness. The rupture scenarios obey earthquake scaling relations and predict magnitudes comparable to those of historical events. We show how fault system geometry and segmentation, hypocenter location, and prestress can affect the potential for rupture cascading, leading to varying slip distributions across different portions of the fault system. Our earthquake scenarios yield spatially heterogeneous near‐field ground motions modulated by geometric complexities, topography, and rupture directivity, particularly in the near‐field. The average ground motion attenuation characteristics of dynamic rupture scenarios of comparable magnitudes and mean stress drop are independent of variations in source complexity, magnitude‐consistent and in good agreement with the latest regional empirical ground motion models. However, physics‐based ground motion variability changes considerably with fault‐distance and increases for unilateral compared to bilateral ruptures. Systematic variations in physics‐based near‐fault ground motions provide important insights into the mechanics and potential earthquake hazard of large strike‐slip fault systems, such as the HFFZ.

    more » « less

    A large non-double-couple component of a tectonic earthquake indicates that its rupture likely was complex and likely involved multiple faults. Detailed source models of such earthquakes can add to our understanding of earthquake source complexity. The 2007 Martinique earthquake in the Caribbean Sea is one of the largest recent earthquakes with a known large non-double-couple component. It was an intermediate depth intraslab earthquake within the South American plate where it is subducting beneath the Caribbean plate. We applied potency density tensor inversion (PDTI) to teleseismic P waves generated by the 2007 Martinique earthquake to model its source processes and focal mechanism distribution. We identified two focal mechanisms: a strike-slip mechanism with a north–south tension axis (T-axis), and a downdip extension (DDE) mechanism with an east–west T-axis. Rupture by the DDE mechanism was predominant in the northern part of the source region and strike-slip rupture in the southern part. These two focal mechanisms had approximately parallel pressure axes (P-axes) and approximately orthogonal T-axes. The seismic moments released by both types of rupture were almost equal. These results indicate that the 2007 Martinique earthquake had a large non-double-couple component. We identified five subevents with two predominant directions of rupture propagation: two strike-slip subevents propagated to the southeast and three DDE subevents propagated to the east. Although the directions of propagation were consistent for each focal mechanism, each subevent appears to have occurred in isolation. For example, the rupture of one DDE subevent propagated from the edge of the source region back towards the hypocentre. Complex ruptures that include multiple subevents may be influenced by high pore fluid pressure associated with slab dehydration. Our results show that PDTI can produce stable estimates of complex seismic source processes and provide useful information about the sources of complex intermediate depth intraslab earthquakes for which fault geometry assumptions are difficult.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We develop a semiautomated method for estimating with second seismic moments the directivity, rupture area, duration, and centroid velocity of earthquakes. The method is applied to 41 southern California earthquakes with magnitude in the range 3.5–5.2 and provides stable results for 28 events. Apparent source time functions (ASTFs) ofPandSphases are derived using deconvolution with three stacked empirical Green's functions (seGf). The use of seGf suppresses nongeneric source effects, improves the focal mechanism correspondence to the analyzed earthquakes, and typically allows inclusion of 5 to 15 more ASTFs compared with analysis using a single eGf. Most analyzed earthquakes in the Trifurcation area of the San Jacinto Fault have directivities toward the northwest, while events around Cajon Pass and San Gabriel Mountain tend to propagate toward the southeast. These results are generally consistent with predictions for dynamic rupture on bimaterial interfaces associated with the imaged velocity contrasts in the area. The second moment inversions also provide constraints on the upper and lower bounds of rupture areas in our data set. Stress drops and uncertainties are estimated for elliptical ruptures using the derived characteristic rupture length and width. The semiautomated second moment method with seGfs can be used for routine application to moderate earthquakes in locations with good station coverage.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    The spectra of earthquake waveforms can provide important insight into rupture processes, but the analysis and interpretation of these spectra is rarely straightforward. Here we develop a Bayesian framework that embraces the inherent data and modeling uncertainties of spectral analysis to infer key source properties. The method uses a spectral ratio approach to correct the observedS‐wave spectra of nearby earthquakes for path and site attenuation. The objective then is to solve for a joint posterior probability distribution of three source parameters—seismic moment, corner frequency, and high‐frequency falloff rate—for each earthquake in the sequence, as well as a measure of rupture directivity for select target events with good azimuthal station coverage. While computationally intensive, this technique provides a quantitative understanding of parameter tradeoffs and uncertainties and allows one to impose physical constraints through prior distributions on all source parameters, which guide the inversion when data is limited. We demonstrate the method by analyzing in detail the source properties of 14 different target events of magnitude M5 in southern California that span a wide range of tectonic regimes and fault systems. These prominent earthquakes, while comparable in size, exhibit marked diversity in their source properties and directivity, with clear spatial patterns, depth‐dependent trends, and a preference for unilateral directivity. These coherent spatial variations source properties suggest that regional differences in tectonic setting, hypocentral depth or fault zone characteristics may drive variability in rupture processes, with important implications for our understanding of earthquake physics and its relation to hazard.

    more » « less
  5. Fault damage zones can influence various aspects of the earthquake cycle, such as the recurrence intervals and magnitudes of large earthquakes. The properties and structure of fault damage zones are often characterized using dense arrays of seismic stations located directly above the faults. However, such arrays may not always be available. Hence, our research aims to develop a novel method to image fault damage zones using broadband stations at relatively larger distances. Previous kinematic simulations and a case study of the 2003 Big Bear earthquake sequence demonstrated that fault damage zones can act as effective waveguides, amplifying high-frequency waves along directions close to fault strike via multiple reflections within the fault damage zone. The amplified high-frequency energy can be observed by stacking P-wave spectra of earthquake clusters with highly-similar waveforms (Huang et al., 2016), and the frequency band which is amplified may be used to estimate the width and velocity contrast of the fault damage zone. We attempt to identify the high-frequency peak associated with fault zone waves in stacked spectra by conducting a large-scale study of small earthquakes (M1.5–3). We use high quality broadband data from seismic stations at hypocentral distances of 20-80 km in the 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake regions. First, we group the Ridgecrest earthquakes in clusters by their locations and their waveform similarity, and then stack their velocity spectra to average the source effects of individual earthquakes. Our results show that the stations close to the fault strike record more high-frequency energies around the characteristic frequency of fault zone reflections. We find that the increase in the amount of high-frequencies is consistent across clusters with average magnitudes ranging from 1.6-2.4, which suggests that the azimuthal variation in spectra is caused by fault zone amplification rather than rupture directivity. We will apply our method to other fault zones in California, in order to search for fault damage zone structures and estimate their material properties. 
    more » « less