A support-operator method for 3-D rupture dynamics

Ely, GP, Day SM, Minster JB.  2009.  A support-operator method for 3-D rupture dynamics. Geophysical Journal International. 177:1140-1150.

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3d, absorption, bends, computational seismology, Earthquake dynamics, electromagnetic-waves, finite, mechanics, nonplanar fault, Numerical solutions, perfectly matched layer, propagation, shear-crack, simulations, wave


We present a numerical method to simulate spontaneous shear crack propagation within a heterogeneous, 3-D, viscoelastic medium. Wave motions are computed on a logically rectangular hexahedral mesh, using the generalized finite-difference method of Support Operators (SOM). This approach enables modelling of non-planar surfaces and non-planar fault ruptures. Our implementation, the Support Operator Rupture Dynamics (SORD) code, is highly scalable, enabling large-scale, multiprocessors calculations. The fault surface is modelled by coupled double nodes, where rupture occurs as dictated by the local stress conditions and a frictional failure law. The method successfully performs test problems developed for the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC)/U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) dynamic earthquake rupture code validation exercise, showing good agreement with semi-analytical boundary integral method results. We undertake further dynamic rupture tests to quantify numerical errors introduced by shear deformations to the hexahedral mesh. We generate a family of meshes distorted by simple shearing, in the along-strike direction, up to a maximum of 73 degrees. For SCEC/USGS validation problem number 3, grid-induced errors increase with mesh shear angle, with the logarithm of error approximately proportional to angle over the range tested. At 73 degrees, firms misfits are about 10 per cent for peak slip rate, and 0.5 per cent for both rupture time and total slip, indicating that the method (which, up to now, we have applied mainly to near-vertical strike-slip faulting) is also capable of handling geometries appropriate to low-angle surface-rupturing thrust earthquakes. Additionally, we demonstrate non-planar rupture effects, by modifying the test geometry to include, respectively, cylindrical curvature and sharp kinks.