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  1. Abstract

    The Sulaiman Fold Thrust (SFT) in Central Pakistan formed during the India‐Eurasia collision in the late Cenozoic. However, the mechanics of shortening of the brittle crust at time scales of seismic cycles is still poorly understood. Here, we use radar interferometry to analyze the deformation associated with the 2015 magnitude (Mw) 5.7 Dajal blind earthquake at the eastern boundary of the SFT. We use kinematic inversions to determine the distribution of slip on the frontal ramp and of flexural slip along active axial surfaces for the forward‐ and backward‐verging two end‐member models: a double fault‐bend‐fold system and a fault‐propagation‐fold. In both models, a décollement branches into a shallow ramp at approximately 7.5 km depth with coseismic folding in the hanging wall. The Dajal earthquake ruptured the base of the Boundary Thrust buried under the sediment from the Indus‐River floodplain, representing fault‐bend or fault‐propagation folding some 30 km off its nearest surface exposure.

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  2. Abstract

    The constitutive behavior of faults is central to many interconnected aspects of earthquake science, from fault dynamics to induced seismicity, to seismic hazards characterization. Yet, a friction law applicable to the range of temperatures found in the brittle crust and upper mantle is still missing. In particular, rocks often exhibit a transition from steady‐state velocity‐strengthening at room temperature to velocity‐weakening in warmer conditions that is poorly understood. Here, we investigate the effect of competing healing mechanisms on the evolution of frictional resistance in a physical model of rate‐, state‐, and temperature‐dependent friction. The yield strength for fault slip depends on the real area of contact, which is modulated by the competition between the growth and erosion of interfacial micro‐asperities. Incorporating multiple healing mechanisms and rock‐forming minerals with different thermodynamic properties allows a transition of the velocity‐ and temperature‐dependence of friction at steady‐state with varying temperatures. We explain the mechanical data for granite, pyroxene, amphibole, shale, and natural fault gouges with activation energies and stress power exponent for weakening of 10–50 kJ/mol and 55–150, respectively, compatible with subcritical crack growth and inter‐granular flow in the active slip zone. Activation energies for the time‐dependent healing process in the range 90–130 kJ/mol in dry conditions and 20–65 kJ/mol in wet conditions indicate the prominence of viscoelastic collapse of microasperities in the absence of water and of pressure‐solution creep, crack healing, and cementation when assisted by pore fluids.

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  3. Abstract

    Earthquake clustering can be promoted by local, regional, and remote triggering. The interaction between faults by static and dynamic stress transfer has received much attention. However, the role of quasi‐static stress interaction mediated by viscoelastic flow is still poorly understood. Here, we investigate whether the tight synchronization of moment‐magnitude 6 earthquakes every about 6 years on distant asperities in the Gofar‐Discovery fault system of the East Pacific Rise may be caused by mechanical coupling within the lithosphere‐asthenosphere system. We build a three‐dimensional numerical model of seismic cycles in the framework of rate‐ and state‐dependent friction with a brittle layer overlaying a viscoelastic mantle with nonlinear rheology to simulate earthquake cycles on separate asperities. The brittle section of the West Gofar fault consists of two frictionally unstable 20 km‐long by 5 km‐wide asperities separated by a velocity‐strengthening barrier, consistent with seismic observations, allowing stress transfer by afterslip and viscoelastic relaxation. We find that viscoelastic stress transfer can promote the synchronization of earthquakes. Even if the asperities are separated by as far as 30 km, synchronization is still possible for a viscosity of the underlying mantle of 1017 Pa s, which can be attained by dislocation creep or transient creep during the postseismic period. Considering the similarities in tectonic and structural settings, viscoelastic stress transfer and earthquake synchronization may also occur at 15’20 (Mid‐Atlantic Ridge), George V (Southeast Indian Ridge), Menard and Heezen transform fault (Pacific‐Antarctic Ridge).

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  4. Abstract

    The Himalayan megathrust accommodates most of the relative convergence between the Indian and Eurasian plates, producing cycles of blind and surface-breaking ruptures. Elucidating the mechanics of down-dip segmentation of the seismogenic zone is key to better determine seismic hazards in the region. However, the geometry of the Himalayan megathrust and its impact on seismicity remains controversial. Here, we develop seismic cycle simulations tuned to the seismo-geodetic data of the 2015Mw7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake to better constrain the megathrust geometry and its role on the demarcation of partial ruptures. We show that a ramp in the middle of the seismogenic zone is required to explain the termination of the coseismic rupture and the source mechanism of up-dip aftershocks consistently. Alternative models with a wide décollement can only explain the mainshock. Fault structural complexities likely play an important role in modulating the seismic cycle, in particular, the distribution of rupture sizes. Fault bends are capable of both obstructing rupture propagation as well as behave as a source of seismicity and rupture initiation.

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  5. Abstract

    Although the surface deformation of tectonic plate boundaries is well determined by geological and geodetic measurements, the pattern of flow below the lithosphere remains poorly constrained. We use the crustal velocity field of the Plate Boundary Observatory to illuminate the distribution of horizontal flow beneath the California margin. At lower-crustal and upper-mantle depths, the boundary between the Pacific and North American plates is off-centered from the San Andreas fault, concentrated in a region that encompasses the trace of nearby active faults. A major step is associated with return flow below the Eastern California Shear Zone, leading to the extrusion of the Mojave block and a re-distribution of fault activity since the Pleistocene. Major earthquakes in California have occurred above the regions of current plastic strain accumulation. Deformation is mechanically coupled from the crust to the asthenosphere, with mantle flow overlaid by a kinematically consistent network of faults in the brittle crust.

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  6. Abstract

    Dynamic modeling of sequences of earthquakes and aseismic slip (SEAS) provides a self‐consistent, physics‐based framework to connect, interpret, and predict diverse geophysical observations across spatial and temporal scales. Amid growing applications of SEAS models, numerical code verification is essential to ensure reliable simulation results but is often infeasible due to the lack of analytical solutions. Here, we develop two benchmarks for three‐dimensional (3D) SEAS problems to compare and verify numerical codes based on boundary‐element, finite‐element, and finite‐difference methods, in a community initiative. Our benchmarks consider a planar vertical strike‐slip fault obeying a rate‐ and state‐dependent friction law, in a 3D homogeneous, linear elastic whole‐space or half‐space, where spontaneous earthquakes and slow slip arise due to tectonic‐like loading. We use a suite of quasi‐dynamic simulations from 10 modeling groups to assess the agreement during all phases of multiple seismic cycles. We find excellent quantitative agreement among simulated outputs for sufficiently large model domains and small grid spacings. However, discrepancies in rupture fronts of the initial event are influenced by the free surface and various computational factors. The recurrence intervals and nucleation phase of later earthquakes are particularly sensitive to numerical resolution and domain‐size‐dependent loading. Despite such variability, key properties of individual earthquakes, including rupture style, duration, total slip, peak slip rate, and stress drop, are comparable among even marginally resolved simulations. Our benchmark efforts offer a community‐based example to improve numerical simulations and reveal sensitivities of model observables, which are important for advancing SEAS models to better understand earthquake system dynamics.

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  7. Abstract

    The rheology of the crust and mantle and the interaction of viscoelastic flow with seismic/aseismic slip on faults control the state of stress in the lithosphere over multiple seismic cycles. The rheological behavior of rocks is well constrained in a laboratory setting, but thein situproperties of the lithosphere and its lateral variations remain poorly known. Here, we access the lower‐crustal rheology in Southern California by exploiting 8 years of geodetic postseismic deformation following the 2010 El Mayor‐Cucapah earthquake. The data illuminate viscoelastic flow in the lower crust with lateral variations of effective viscosity correlated with the geological province. We show that a Burgers assembly with dashpots following a nonlinear constitutive law can approximate the temporal evolution of stress and strain rate, indicating the activation of nonlinear transient creep before steady‐state dislocation creep. The transient and background viscosities in the lower crust of the Salton Trough are on the order of ~1018and ~1019 Pa s, respectively, about an order of magnitude lower than those in the surrounding regions. We highlight the importance of transient creep, nonlinear flow laws, and lateral variations of rheological properties to capture the entire history of postseismic relaxation following the El Mayor‐Cucapah earthquake.

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  8. Abstract The collision between India and Eurasia mobilizes multiple processes of continental tectonics. However, how deformation develops within the lithosphere across the Tibetan Plateau is still poorly known and a synoptic view is missing. Here, we exploit an extensive geodetic observatory to resolve the kinematics of this diffuse plate boundary and the arrangement of various mechanisms down to upper-mantle depths. The three-dimensional velocity field is compatible with continental underthrusting below the central Himalayas and with delamination rollback below the western syntaxis. The rise of the Tibetan Plateau occurs by shortening in the Indian and Asian crusts at its southern and northwestern margins. The subsidence of Central Tibet is associated with lateral extrusion and attendant lithospheric thinning aided by the downwelling current from the opposite-facing Indian and Asian collisions. The current kinematics of the Indian-Eurasian collision may reflect the differential evolution of the inner and outer Tibetan Plateau during the late Cenozoic. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  9. On February 6, 2023, two large earthquakes occurred near the Turkish town of Kahramanmaraş. The moment magnitude (Mw) 7.8 mainshock ruptured a 310 km-long segment of the left-lateral East Anatolian Fault, propagating through multiple releasing step-overs. The Mw 7.6 aftershock involved nearby left-lateral strike-slip faults of the East Anatolian Fault Zone, causing a 150 km-long rupture. We use remote-sensing observations to constrain the spatial distribution of coseismic slip for these two events and the February 20 Mw 6.4 aftershock near Antakya. Pixel tracking of optical and synthetic aperture radar data of the Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1 satellites, respectively, provide near-field surface displacements. High-rate Global Navigation Satellite System data constrain each event separately. Coseismic slip extends from the surface to about 15 km depth with a shallow slip deficit. Most aftershocks cluster at major fault bends, surround the regions of high coseismic slip, or extend outward of the ruptured faults. For the mainshock, rupture propagation stopped southward at the diffuse termination of the East Anatolian fault and tapered off northward into the Pütürge segment, some 20 km south of the 2020 Mw 6.8 Elaziğ earthquake, highlighting a potential seismic gap. These events underscore the high seismic potential of immature fault systems. 
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