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Nature. 2005 Aug 18;436(7053):1009-12.

Earthquake rupture dynamics frozen in exhumed ancient faults.

Author information

1
Dipartimento di Geologia, Paleontologia e Geofisica-Università di Padova, 35137 Padova, Italy.

Abstract

Most of our knowledge about co-seismic rupture propagation is derived from inversion and interpretation of strong-ground-motion seismograms, laboratory experiments on rock and rock-analogue material, or inferred from theoretical and numerical elastodynamic models. However, additional information on dynamic rupture processes can be provided by direct observation of faults exhumed at the Earth's surface. Pseudotachylytes (solidified friction-induced melts) are the most certain fault-rock indicator of seismicity on ancient faults. Here we show how the asymmetry in distribution and the orientation of pseudotachylyte-filled secondary fractures around an exhumed fault can be used to reconstruct the earthquake rupture directivity, rupture velocity and fracture energy, by comparison with the theoretical dynamic stress field computed around propagating fractures. In particular, the studied natural network of pseudotachylytes is consistent with a dominant propagation direction during repeated seismic events and subsonic rupture propagation close to the Rayleigh wave velocity.

PMID:
16107846
DOI:
10.1038/nature03910

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