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2016
Mitchell, EK, Fialko Y, Brown KM.  2016.  Velocity-weakening behavior of Westerly granite at temperature up to 600 degrees C. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 121:6932-6946.   10.1002/2016jb013081   AbstractWebsite

The deep limit to seismicity in continental crust is believed to be controlled by a transition from velocity-weakening to velocity-strengthening friction based on experimental measurements of the rate dependence of friction at different temperatures. Available experimental data on granite suggest a transition to stable creep at about 350 degrees C (approximate to 15km depth). Here we present results from unconfined experiments on Westerly granite at both dry and hydrated conditions that show increasingly unstable slip (velocity-weakening behavior) at temperature up to 600 degrees C. A comparison of previously published experimental results with those presented in this study suggests that the rate and state friction parameters strongly depend on normal stress and pore pressure at high (>400 degrees C) temperature, which may help explain regional variations in the depth distribution of earthquakes in continental crust. Temperature dependence of the rate and state friction parameters may also contribute to strong dynamic weakening observed in high-speed friction experiments on crystalline rocks such as granite and gabbro.

2015
Mitchell, EK, Fialko Y, Brown KM.  2015.  Frictional properties of gabbro at conditions corresponding to slow slip events in subduction zones. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 16:4006-4020.   10.1002/2015gc006093   AbstractWebsite

We conducted a series of experiments to explore the rate and state frictional properties of gabbro at conditions thought to be representative of slow slip events (SSEs) in subduction zones. The experiments were conducted using a heated direct shear apparatus. We tested both solid and simulated gouge samples at low effective normal stress (5-30 MPa) over a broad range of temperatures (20-600 degrees C) under dry and hydrated conditions. In tests performed on dry solid samples, we observed stable sliding at low temperatures (20-150 degrees C), stick slip at high temperatures (350-600 degrees C), and a transitional "episodic slow slip'' behavior at intermediate temperatures (200-300 degrees C). In tests performed on dry gouge samples, we observed stable sliding at all temperatures. Under hydrated conditions, the gouge samples exhibited episodic slow slip and stick-slip behavior at temperatures between 300 and 500 degrees C. Our results show a decrease in the rate parameter (a - b) with temperature for both solid and gouge samples; friction transitions from velocity strengthening to velocity weakening at temperature of about 150 degrees C for both solid and gouge samples. We do not observe transition to velocity-strengthening friction at the high end of the tested temperature range. Our results suggest that the occurrence of slow slip events and the downdip limit of the seismogenic zone on subduction megathrusts cannot be solely explained by the temperature dependence of frictional properties of gabbro. Further experimental studies are needed to evaluate the effects of water fugacity and compositional heterogeneity (e. g., the presence of phyllosilicates) on frictional stability of subduction megathrusts.

2013
Mitchell, EK, Fialko Y, Brown KM.  2013.  Temperature dependence of frictional healing of Westerly granite: Experimental observations and numerical simulations. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 14:567-582.   10.1029/2012gc004241   AbstractWebsite

Temperature is believed to have an important control on frictional properties of rocks, yet the amount of experimental observations of time-dependent rock friction at high temperatures is rather limited. In this study, we investigated frictional healing of Westerly granite in a series of slide-hold-slide experiments using a direct shear apparatus at ambient temperatures between 20 degrees C and 550 degrees C. We observed that at room temperature coefficient of friction increases in proportion to the logarithm of hold time at a rate consistent with findings of previous studies. For a given hold time, the coefficient of friction linearly increases with temperature, but temperature has little effect on the rate of change in static friction with hold time. We used a numerical model to investigate whether time-dependent increases in real contact area between rough surfaces could account for the observed frictional healing. The model incorporates fractal geometry and temperature-dependent viscoelasoplastic rheology. We explored several candidate rheologies that have been proposed for steady state creep of rocks at high stresses and temperatures. None of the tested laws could provide an agreement between the observed and modeled healing behavior given material properties reported in the bulk creep experiments. An acceptable fit to the experimental data could be achieved with modified parameters. In particular, for the power-law rheology to provide a reasonable fit to the data, the stress exponent needs to be greater than 40. Alternative mechanisms include time-dependent gouge compaction and increases in bond strength between contacting asperities.

Takeuchi, CS, Fialko Y.  2013.  On the effects of thermally weakened ductile shear zones on postseismic deformation. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 118:6295-6310.   10.1002/2013jb010215   AbstractWebsite

We present three-dimensional (3-D) numerical models of postseismic deformation following repeated earthquakes on a vertical strike-slip fault. Our models use linear Maxwell, Burgers, and temperature-dependent power law rheology for the lower crust and upper mantle. We consider effects of viscous shear zones that result from thermomechanical coupling and investigate potential kinematic similarities between viscoelastic models incorporating shear zones and elastic models incorporating rate-strengthening friction on a deep aseismic fault root. We find that the thermally activated shear zones have little effect on postseismic relaxation. In particular, the presence of shear zones does not change the polarity of vertical displacements in cases of rheologies that are able to generate robust postseismic transients. Stronger rheologies can give rise to an opposite polarity of vertical displacements, but the amplitude of the predicted transient deformation is generally negligible. We conclude that additional (to thermomechanical coupling) mechanisms of strain localization are required for a viscoelastic model to produce a vertical deformation pattern similar to that due to afterslip on a deep extension of a fault. We also investigate the discriminating power of models incorporating Burgers and power law rheology. These rheologies were proposed to explain postseismic transients following large (M7) earthquakes in the Mojave desert, Eastern California. Numerical simulations indicate that it may be difficult to distinguish between these rheologies even with high-quality geodetic observations for observation periods less than a decade. Longer observations, however, may potentially allow discrimination between the competing models, as illustrated by the model comparisons with available GPS and interferometric synthetic aperture radar data.

2009
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.

Hearn, EH, Fialko Y.  2009.  Can compliant fault zones be used to measure absolute stresses in the upper crust? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb005901   AbstractWebsite

Geodetic and seismic observations reveal long-lived zones with reduced elastic moduli along active crustal faults. These fault zones localize strain from nearby earthquakes, consistent with the response of a compliant, elastic layer. Fault zone trapped wave studies documented a small reduction in P and S wave velocities along the Johnson Valley Fault caused by the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake. This reduction presumably perturbed a permanent compliant structure associated with the fault. The inferred changes in the fault zone compliance may produce a measurable deformation in response to background (tectonic) stresses. This deformation should have the same sense as the background stress, rather than the coseismic stress change. Here we investigate how the observed deformation of compliant zones in the Mojave Desert can be used to constrain the fault zone structure and stresses in the upper crust. We find that gravitational contraction of the coseismically softened zones should cause centimeters of coseismic subsidence of both the compliant zones and the surrounding region, unless the compliant fault zones are shallow and narrow, or essentially incompressible. We prefer the latter interpretation because profiles of line of sight displacements across compliant zones cannot be fit by a narrow, shallow compliant zone. Strain of the Camp Rock and Pinto Mountain fault zones during the Hector Mine and Landers earthquakes suggests that background deviatoric stresses are broadly consistent with Mohr-Coulomb theory in the Mojave upper crust (with mu >= 0.7). Large uncertainties in Mojave compliant zone properties and geometry preclude more precise estimates of crustal stresses in this region. With improved imaging of the geometry and elastic properties of compliant zones, and with precise measurements of their strain in response to future earthquakes, the modeling approach we describe here may eventually provide robust estimates of absolute crustal stress.

LaBonte, AL, Brown KM, Fialko Y.  2009.  Hydrologic detection and finite element modeling of a slow slip event in the Costa Rica prism toe. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 114   10.1029/2008jb005806   AbstractWebsite

We investigate transient fluid flux through the seafloor recorded near the Costa Rica trench during the 2000 Costa Rica Seismogenic Zone Experiment using a 2-D fully coupled poroelastic finite element model. We demonstrate that the observed hydrologic anomalies are consistent with a model of propagating slow slip at the subduction interface between the frontal prism and downgoing plate. There are two sources of volumetric strain that drive fluid flux at the seafloor in response to fault slip at depth: (1) compression and dilation in the vicinity of the tips of a slipping patch and (2) extension and compression due to flexure of the seafloor. The superposition of these two effects results in distinctive spatial and temporal patterns of fluid flow through the seafloor. In a forward modeling approach, time series from shear ruptures with a range of fault length-to-depth ratios in a heterogeneous crust are generated and compared with flow rate observations. Assuming a constant propagation rate and an elliptical profile for the distribution of slip along the decollement, the set of model predictions enables us to infer the probable rupture location, extent, propagation velocity, and duration from a single flow rate time series. The best fit model suggests that the slow slip event initiated within the toe at a depth of less than 4 km and propagated bilaterally at an average rate of 0.5 km d(-1). This interpretation implies that stress in the shallow subduction zone is relieved episodically. Furthermore, the Costa Rica data suggest that episodic slow slip events may initiate in the prism toe without being triggered by a seismic event further downdip.

2006
Fialko, Y.  2006.  Interseismic strain accumulation and the earthquake potential on the southern San Andreas fault system. Nature. 441:968-971.   10.1038/nature04797   AbstractWebsite

The San Andreas fault in California is a mature continental transform fault that accommodates a significant fraction of motion between the North American and Pacific plates. The two most recent great earthquakes on this fault ruptured its northern and central sections in 1906 and 1857, respectively. The southern section of the fault, however, has not produced a great earthquake in historic times ( for at least 250 years). Assuming the average slip rate of a few centimetres per year, typical of the rest of the San Andreas fault, the minimum amount of slip deficit accrued on the southern section is of the order of 7 - 10 metres, comparable to the maximum co-seismic offset ever documented on the fault(1,2). Here I present high-resolution measurements of interseismic deformation across the southern San Andreas fault system using a well-populated catalogue of space-borne synthetic aperture radar data. The data reveal a nearly equal partitioning of deformation between the southern San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, with a pronounced asymmetry in strain accumulation with respect to the geologically mapped fault traces. The observed strain rates confirm that the southern section of the San Andreas fault may be approaching the end of the interseismic phase of the earthquake cycle.

2005
Fialko, Y, Rivera L, Kanamori H.  2005.  Estimate of differential stress in the upper crust from variations in topography and strike along the San Andreas fault. Geophysical Journal International. 160:527-532.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2004.02511.x   AbstractWebsite

The major bends of the San Andreas fault in California are associated with significant variations in the along-fault topography. The topography-induced perturbations in the intermediate principal stress may result in the rotation of the fault with respect to the maximum compression axis provided that the fault is non-vertical, and the slip is horizontal. The progressive fault rotation may produce additional topography via thrust faulting in the adjacent crust, resulting in a positive feedback. The observed rotation of the fault plane due to the along-fault variations in topography is used to infer the magnitude of the in situ differential stress. Our results suggest that the average differential stress in the upper crust around the San Andreas fault is of the order of 50 MPa, implying that the effective fault strength is about a factor of two lower than predictions based on Byerlee's law and the assumption of hydrostatic pore pressure.

2002
Simons, M, Fialko Y, Rivera L.  2002.  Coseismic deformation from the 1999 M-w 7.1 Hector Mine, California, earthquake as inferred from InSAR and GPS observations. Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. 92:1390-1402.   10.1785/0120000933   AbstractWebsite

We use interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and Global Positioning System (GPS) observations to Investigate static deformation due to the 1999 M-w 7.1 Hector Mine earthquake, that occurred in the eastern California shear zone. Interferometric decorrelation, phase, and azimuth offset measurements indicate regions of surface and near-surface slip, which we use to constrain the geometry of surface rupture. The inferred geometry is spatially complex, with multiple strands. The southern third of the rupture zone consists of three subparallel segments extending about 20 km in length in a N45degreesW direction. The central segment is the simplest, with a single strand crossing the Bullion Mountains and a strike of N10degreesW. The northern third of the rupture zone is characterized by multiple splays, with directions subparallel to strikes in the southern and central. The average strike for the entire rupture is about N30degreesW. The interferograms indicate significant along-strike variations in strain which are consistent with variations in the ground-based slip measurements. Using a variable resolution data sampling routine to reduce the computational burden, we invert the InSAR and GPS data for the fault geometry and distribution of slip. We compare results from assuming an elastic half-space and a layered elastic space. Results from these two elastic models are similar, although the layered-space model predicts more slip at depth than does the half-space model. The layered model predicts a maximum coseismic slip of more than 5 In at a depth of 3 to 6 km. Contrary to preliminary reports, the northern part of the Hector Mine rupture accommodates the maximum slip. Our model predictions for the surface fault offset and total seismic moment agree with both field mapping results and recent seismic models. The inferred shallow slip deficit is enigmatic and may suggest that distributed inelastic yielding occurred in the uppermost few kilometers of the crust during or soon after the earthquake.