New paper out : " Fault-size dependent fracture energy explains multi-scale seismicity and cascading earthquakes"

23 July, 2023

Earthquakes vary in size over many orders of magnitude, yet the scaling of the earthquake energy budget remains enigmatic. We propose that fundamentally different "small-slip" and "large-slip" fracture processes govern earthquakes. We combine seismological observations with a physics-based mechanical earthquake model under flash-heating friction. We find that dynamic weakening and restrengthening effects are non-negligible in the energy budget of small earthquakes and establish a simple linear scaling relationship between small-slip fracture energy and fault size. We use supercomputing to apply this scaling and unveil volumetric "Mode-4" earthquake cascades involving  multi-scale fractures within a fault damage zone, capable of dynamically triggering large earthquakes. Our findings provide an intuitive explanation of seismicity across all scales with important implications for comprehending earthquake nucleation and multi-fault rupture cascades.

By Alice-Agnes GabrielDmitry I. GaragashKadek H. PalgunadiP. Martin Mai