Why do earthquakes stop?

The underlying structure of a fault determines whether an earthquake rupture will jump from one fault to another, magnifying its size and potential devastation. Understanding why some earthquakes terminate along a fault, while others jump or step-over a gap to another fault, is essential to forecasting the seismic hazard of complex fault systems, such as the San Andreas Fault.

In a paper published in this issue of BSSA, author David Oglesby of University of California at Riverside suggests that the pattern of stress at the end of the primary fault can strongly affect an earthquake’s ability to jump to a secondary fault.

He suggests that a smooth, gradual decrease in stress along a rupture results in slower rupture deceleration, less strain, less generation of seismic waves, and lowers the likelihood that the earthquake will jump to another fault.

In contrast, a stress pattern that terminates suddenly leads to abrupt rupture termination, higher strain, more seismic radiation, and a higher likelihood of the rupture jumping to a secondary fault.

The results of this numerical study illustrate the importance of the slip gradient and the acceleration of the rupture front in determining the probability of a rupture jumping from one fault segment to another.

Media Contact

Nan Broadbent EurekAlert!

More Information:

http://www.seismosoc.org

All latest news from the category: Earth Sciences

Earth Sciences (also referred to as Geosciences), which deals with basic issues surrounding our planet, plays a vital role in the area of energy and raw materials supply.

Earth Sciences comprises subjects such as geology, geography, geological informatics, paleontology, mineralogy, petrography, crystallography, geophysics, geodesy, glaciology, cartography, photogrammetry, meteorology and seismology, early-warning systems, earthquake research and polar research.

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

Thermal insulation for quantum technologies

Thermal insulation is not only important for buildings, but also in quantum technologies. While insulation panels around a house keep the heat inside, quantum devices require insulation against heat from…

Spin keeps electrons in line in iron-based superconductor

Electronic nematicity, thought to be an ingredient in high temperature superconductivity, is primarily spin driven in FeSe finds a study in Nature Physics. Researchers from PSI’s Spectroscopy of Quantum Materials…

Scientists devise method to prevent deadly hospital infections without antibiotics

Novel surface treatment developed at UCLA stops microbes from adhering to medical devices like catheters and stents. A hospital or medical clinic might be the last place you’d expect to…

Partners & Sponsors