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Barbot, S, Fialko Y, Sandwell D.  2009.  Three-dimensional models of elastostatic deformation in heterogeneous media, with applications to the Eastern California Shear Zone. Geophysical Journal International. 179:500-520.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.04194.x   AbstractWebsite

P>We present a semi-analytic iterative procedure for evaluating the 3-D deformation due to faults in an arbitrarily heterogeneous elastic half-space. Spatially variable elastic properties are modelled with equivalent body forces and equivalent surface traction in a 'homogenized' elastic medium. The displacement field is obtained in the Fourier domain using a semi-analytic Green function. We apply this model to investigate the response of 3-D compliant zones (CZ) around major crustal faults to coseismic stressing by nearby earthquakes. We constrain the two elastic moduli, as well as the geometry of the fault zones by comparing the model predictions to Synthetic Aperture Radar inferferometric (InSAR) data. Our results confirm that the CZ models for the Rodman, Calico and Pinto Mountain faults in the Eastern California Shear Zone (ECSZ) can explain the coseismic InSAR data from both the Landers and the Hector Mine earthquakes. For the Pinto Mountain fault zone, InSAR data suggest a 50 per cent reduction in effective shear modulus and no significant change in Poisson's ratio compared to the ambient crust. The large wavelength of coseismic line-of-sight displacements around the Pinto Mountain fault requires a fairly wide (similar to 1.9 km) CZ extending to a depth of at least 9 km. Best fit for the Calico CZ, north of Galway Dry Lake, is obtained for a 4 km deep structure, with a 60 per cent reduction in shear modulus, with no change in Poisson's ratio. We find that the required effective rigidity of the Calico fault zone south of Galway Dry Lake is not as low as that of the northern segment, suggesting along-strike variations of effective elastic moduli within the same fault zone. The ECSZ InSAR data is best explained by CZ models with reduction in both shear and bulk moduli. These observations suggest pervasive and widespread damage around active crustal faults.

Barbot, S, Fialko Y, Sandwell D.  2008.  Effect of a compliant fault zone on the inferred earthquake slip distribution. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 113   10.1029/2007jb005256   AbstractWebsite

We present a new semi-analytic method to evaluate the deformation due to a screw dislocation in arbitrarily heterogeneous and/or anisotropic elastic half plane. The method employs integral transformations to reduce the governing partial differential equations to the integral Fredholm equation of the second kind. Dislocation sources, as well as spatial perturbations in the elastic properties are modeled using equivalent body forces. The solution to the Fredholm equation is obtained in the Fourier domain using a method of successive over-relaxation, and is mapped into the spatial domain using the inverse Fast Fourier Transform. We apply this method to investigate the effect of a soft damage zone around an earthquake fault on the co-seismic displacement field, and on the earthquake slip distribution inferred from inversions of geodetic data. In the presence of a kilometer-wide damage zone with a reduction of the effective shear modulus of a factor of 2, inversions that assume a laterally homogeneous model tend to underestimate the amount of slip in the middle of the seismogenic layer by as much as 20%. This bias may accentuate the inferred maxima in the seismic moment release at depth between 3-6 km suggested by previous studies of large strike-slip earthquakes.

Barbot, S, Fialko Y.  2010.  A unified continuum representation of post-seismic relaxation mechanisms: semi-analytic models of afterslip, poroelastic rebound and viscoelastic flow. Geophysical Journal International. 182:1124-1140.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04678.x   AbstractWebsite

P>We present a unified continuum mechanics representation of the mechanisms believed to be commonly involved in post-seismic transients such as viscoelasticity, fault creep and poroelasticity. The time-dependent relaxation that follows an earthquake, or any other static stress perturbation, is considered in a framework of a generalized viscoelastoplastic rheology whereby some inelastic strain relaxes a physical quantity in the material. The relaxed quantity is the deviatoric stress in case of viscoelastic relaxation, the shear stress in case of creep on a fault plane and the trace of the stress tensor in case of poroelastic rebound. In this framework, the instantaneous velocity field satisfies the linear inhomogeneous Navier's equation with sources parametrized as equivalent body forces and surface tractions. We evaluate the velocity field using the Fourier-domain Green's function for an elastic half-space with surface buoyancy boundary condition. The accuracy of the proposed method is demonstrated by comparisons with finite-element simulations of viscoelastic relaxation following strike-slip and dip-slip ruptures for linear and power-law rheologies. We also present comparisons with analytic solutions for afterslip driven by coseismic stress changes. Finally, we demonstrate that the proposed method can be used to model time-dependent poroelastic rebound by adopting a viscoelastic rheology with bulk viscosity and work hardening. The proposed method allows one to model post-seismic transients that involve multiple mechanisms (afterslip, poroelastic rebound, ductile flow) with an account for the effects of gravity, non-linear rheologies and arbitrary spatial variations in inelastic properties of rocks (e.g. the effective viscosity, rate-and-state frictional parameters and poroelastic properties).

Barbot, S, Hamiel Y, Fialko Y.  2008.  Space geodetic investigation of the coseismic and postseismic deformation due to the 2003 M(w)7.2 Altai earthquake: Implications for the local lithospheric rheology. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 113   10.1029/2007jb005063   AbstractWebsite

We use Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar data and SPOT optical imagery to investigate the coseismic and postseismic deformation due to the 27 September 2003, M(w)7.2 Altai earthquake, which occurred in the Chuya Basin near the Russia-China-Mongolia border. On the basis of the synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and SPOT data, we determined the rupture location and developed a coseismic slip model for the Altai earthquake. The inferred rupture location is in a good agreement with field observations, and the geodetic moment from our slip model is consistent with the seismic moment determined from the teleseismic data. While the epicentral area of the Altai earthquake is not optimal for radar interferometry (in particular, due to temporal decorrelation), we were able to detect a transient signal over a time period of 3 years following the earthquake. The signal is robust in that it allows us to discriminate among several commonly assumed mechanisms of postseismic relaxation. We find that the postearthquake interferometric SAR data do not warrant poroelastic rebound in the upper crust. The observed deformation also disagrees with linear viscoelastic relaxation in the upper mantle or lower crust, giving rise to a lower bound on the dynamic viscosity of the lower crust of the order of 10(19) Pa s. The data can be explained in terms of fault slip within the seismogenic zone, on the periphery of areas with high coseismic slip. Most of the postseismic deformation can be explained in terms of seismic moment release in aftershocks; some shallow slip may have also occurred aseismically. Therefore the observed postseismic deformation due to the Altai earthquake is qualitatively different from deformation due to other similarly sized earthquakes, in particular, the Landers and Hector Mine earthquakes in the Mojave desert, southern California. The observed variations in the deformation pattern may be indicative of different rheologic structure of the continental lithosphere in different tectonically active areas.

Barbot, S, Fialko Y.  2010.  Fourier-domain Green's function for an elastic semi-infinite solid under gravity, with applications to earthquake and volcano deformation. Geophysical Journal International. 182:568-582.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04655.x   AbstractWebsite

We present an analytic solution in the Fourier domain for an elastic deformation in a semi-infinite solid due to an arbitrary surface traction. We generalize the so-called Boussinesq's and Cerruti's problems to include a restoring buoyancy boundary condition at the surface. Buoyancy due to a large density contrast at the Earth's surface is an approximation to the full effect of gravity that neglects the perturbation of the gravitational potential and the change in density in the interior. Using the perturbation method, and assuming that the effect of gravity is small compared to the elastic deformation, we derive an approximation in the space domain to the Boussinesq's problem that accounts for a buoyancy boundary condition at the surface. The Fourier- and space-domain solutions are shown to be in good agreement. Numerous problems of elastostatic or quasi-static time-dependent deformation relevant to faulting in the Earth's interior (including inelastic deformation) can be modelled using equivalent body forces and surface tractions. Solving the governing equations with the elastic Green's function in the space domain can be impractical as the body force can be distributed over a large volume. We present a computationally efficient method to evaluate the elastic deformation in a 3-D half space due to the presence of an arbitrary distribution of internal forces and tractions at the surface of the half space. We first evaluate the elastic deformation in a periodic Cartesian volume in the Fourier domain, then use the analytic solutions to the generalized Boussinesq's and Cerruti's problems to satisfy the prescribed mixed boundary condition at the surface. We show some applications for magmatic intrusions and faulting. This approach can be used to solve elastostatic problems involving spatially heterogeneous elastic properties (by employing a homogenization method) and time-dependent problems such as non-linear viscoelastic relaxation, poroelastic rebound and non-steady fault creep under the assumption of spatially homogeneous elastic properties.

Barbot, S, Fialko Y, Bock Y.  2009.  Postseismic deformation due to the M(w) 6.0 2004 Parkfield earthquake: Stress-driven creep on a fault with spatially variable rate-and-state friction parameters. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb005748   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the coseismic and postseismic deformation due to the M(w) 6.0 2004 Parkfield, California, earthquake. We produce coseismic and postseismic slip models by inverting data from an array of 14 continuous GPS stations from the SCIGN network. Kinematic inversions of postseismic GPS data over a time period of 3 years show that afterslip occurred in areas of low seismicity and low coseismic slip, predominantly at a depth of similar to 5 km. Inversions suggest that coseismic stress increases were relaxed by predominantly aseismic afterslip on a fault plane. The kinetics of afterslip is consistent with a velocity-strengthening friction generalized to include the case of infinitesimal velocities. We performed simulations of stress-driven creep using a numerical model that evaluates the time-dependent deformation due to coseismic stress changes in a viscoelastoplastic half-space. Starting with a coseismic slip distribution, we compute the time-dependent evolution of afterslip on a fault plane and the associated displacements at the GPS stations. Data are best explained by a rate-strengthening model with frictional parameter (a - b) = 7 x 10(-3), at a high end of values observed in laboratory experiments. We also find that the geodetic moment due to creep is a factor of 100 greater than the cumulative seismic moment of aftershocks. The rate of aftershocks in the top 10 km of the seismogenic zone mirrors the kinetics of afterslip, suggesting that postearthquake seismicity is governed by loading from the nearby aseismic creep. The San Andreas fault around Parkfield is deduced to have large along-strike variations in rate-and-state frictional properties. Velocity strengthening areas may be responsible for the separation of the coseismic slip in two distinct asperities and for the ongoing aseismic creep occurring between the velocity-weakening patches after the 2004 rupture.

Bassett, D, Sandwell DT, Fialko Y, Watts AB.  2016.  Upper-plate controls on co-seismic slip in the 2011 magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-oki earthquake. Nature. 531:92-96.: Nature Publishing Group   10.1038/nature16945   Abstract

The March 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake was only the second giant (moment magnitude Mw ≥ 9.0) earthquake to occur in the last 50 years and is the most recent to be recorded using modern geophysical techniques. Available data place high-resolution constraints on the kinematics of earthquake rupture1, which have challenged prior knowledge about how much a fault can slip in a single earthquake and the seismic potential of a partially coupled megathrust interface2. But it is not clear what physical or structural characteristics controlled either the rupture extent or the amplitude of slip in this earthquake. Here we use residual topography and gravity anomalies to constrain the geological structure of the overthrusting (upper) plate offshore northeast Japan. These data reveal an abrupt southwest–northeast-striking boundary in upper-plate structure, across which gravity modelling indicates a south-to-north increase in the density of rocks overlying the megathrust of 150–200 kilograms per cubic metre. We suggest that this boundary represents the offshore continuation of the Median Tectonic Line, which onshore juxtaposes geological terranes composed of granite batholiths (in the north) and accretionary complexes (in the south)3. The megathrust north of the Median Tectonic Line is interseismically locked2, has a history of large earthquakes (18 with Mw > 7 since 1896) and produced peak slip exceeding 40 metres in the Tohoku-oki earthquake1. In contrast, the megathrust south of this boundary has higher rates of interseismic creep2, has not generated an earthquake with MJ > 7 (local magnitude estimated by the Japan Meteorological Agency) since 1923, and experienced relatively minor (if any) co-seismic slip in 20111. We propose that the structure and frictional properties of the overthrusting plate control megathrust coupling and seismogenic behaviour in northeast Japan.

Brown, K, Fialko Y.  2012.  "Melt welt" mechanism of extreme weakening of gabbro at seismic slip rates. Nature. 488:638-641.   10.1038/nature11370   Abstract

Laboratory studies of frictional properties of rocks at slip velocities approaching the seismic range (~0.1–1 m s−1), and at moderate normal stresses (1–10 MPa), have revealed a complex evolution of the dynamic shear strength, with at least two phases of weakening separated by strengthening at the onset of wholesale melting. The second post-melting weakening phase is governed by viscous properties of the melt layer and is reasonably well understood. The initial phase of extreme weakening, however, remains a subject of much debate. Here we show that the initial weakening of gabbro is associated with the formation of hotspots and macroscopic streaks of melt (‘melt welts’), which partially unload the rest of the slip interface. Melt welts begin to form when the average rate of frictional heating exceeds 0.1–0.4 MW m−2, while the average temperature of the shear zone is well below the solidus (250–450 °C). Similar heterogeneities in stress and temperature are likely to occur on natural fault surfaces during rapid slip, and to be important for earthquake rupture dynamics.