Geology & Geophysics Editors' Highlights

Can We Tell If Faults Grew During or Between Earthquakes?

Numerical simulations of earthquake cycle deformation reveal that co-seismic and interseismic fault propagation can produce distinct propagation angles that may be recorded in the crust.

Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth


Using an innovative approach, Preuss et al. [2019] provide insights into the propagation of faults both between and during earthquakes. By using a model set-up that joins long-term elasto-viscous-plastic deformation with earthquake rupture simulation, the authors are able to study faulting from fault initiation through stages of both aseismic growth between earthquakes and co-seismic growth during earthquakes. The innovative physics of the model permits the emergence of seismic slip after years of aseismic quasi-static fault growth.

These results shed insight into the potential development of fault bends, which are often observed along strike-slip faults. Because the angle of fault propagation changes as the fault slip speed evolves, cycles of earthquakes may produce a change in fault orientation along propagating faults. The findings of this study have interesting implications for the evolving behavior of active faults that are often decorated with bends, branches and secondary faults.

Citation: Preuss, S., Herrendörfer, R., Gerya, T. V., Ampuero, J.‐P., & vanDinther, Y. [2019]. Seismic and aseismic fault growth lead to different fault orientations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 124.

—Michele Cooke, Associate Editor, JGR: Solid Earth

Text © 2019. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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