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  1. We perform numerical experiments of damped quasi-dynamic fault slip that include a rate-and-state behavior at steady state to simulate earthquakes and a plastic rheology to model permanent strain. The model shear zone has a finite width which represents a natural fault zone. Here we reproduce fast and slow events that follow theoretical and observational scaling relationships for earthquakes and slow slip events (SSEs). We show that the transition between fast and slow slip occurs when the friction drop in the shear zone is equal to a critical value, Δμc. With lower friction drops, SSEs use nearly all of mechanical workmore »to accumulate inelastic strain, while with higher friction drops fast slips use some of the mechanical work to slip frictionally. Our new formulation replaces the state evolution of rate and state by the stress evolution concurrent with accumulation of permanent damage in and around a fault zone.« less
  2. Megathrust systems hold important clues for our understanding of long- and short-term plate boundary dynamics, and the 2011 M9 Tohoku-oki earthquake provides a data-rich case in point. Here, we show that the F-net moment tensor catalog indicates systematic changes in crustal stress in the years leading up to the M9, due to the co-seismic effect, and for the last few years due to viscous relaxation. We explore the match between imaged stress change and the perturbations that are expected from 3-D, mechanical models of the visco-elastic relaxation and afterslip effects of the M9. While these models were constructed based onmore »geodetic and structural seismology constraints alone, they match many characteristics of the seismicity-inferred stress change. This provides additional confidence in the modeling approach, and new clues for our understanding of plate boundary dynamics for the Japan trench. The success of deterministic approaches for exploring crustal stress change also implies that joint inversions using stress from focal mechanisms and geodetic constraints may be feasible. Such future efforts should provide key insights into time-dependent seismic hazard including earthquake triggering scenarios.« less
  3. The importance of slab–slab interactions is manifested in the kinematics and geometry of the Philippine Sea Plate and western Pacific subduction zones, and such interactions offer a dynamic basis for the first-order observations in this complex subduction setting. The westward subduction of the Pacific Sea Plate changes, along-strike, from single slab subduction beneath Japan, to a double-subduction setting where Pacific subduction beneath the Philippine Sea Plate occurs in tandem with westward subduction of the Philippine Sea Plate beneath Eurasia. Our 3-D numerical models show that there are fundamental differences between single slab systems and double slab systems where both subductionmore »systems have the same vergence. We find that the observed kinematics and slab geometry of the Pacific–Philippine subduction can be understood by considering an along-strike transition from single to double subduction, and is largely independent from the detailed geometry of the Philippine Sea Plate. Important first order features include the relatively shallow slab dip, retreating/stationary trenches, and rapid subduction for single slab systems (Pacific Plate subducting under Japan), and front slabs within a double slab system (Philippine Sea Plate subducting at Ryukyu). In contrast, steep to overturned slab dips, advancing trench motion, and slower subduction occurs for rear slabs in a double slab setting (Pacific subducting at the Izu–Bonin–Mariana). This happens because of a relative build-up of pressure in the asthenosphere beneath the Philippine Sea Plate, where the asthenosphere is constrained between the converging Ryukyu and Izu–Bonin–Mariana slabs. When weak back-arc regions are included, slab–slab convergence rates slow and the middle (Philippine) plate extends, which leads to reduced pressure build up and reduced slab–slab coupling. Models without back-arcs, or with back-arc viscosities that are reduced by a factor of five, produce kinematics compatible with present-day observations.« less