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Sci Adv. 2017 Dec 20;3(12):eaap7528. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aap7528. eCollection 2017 Dec.

Induced seismicity provides insight into why earthquake ruptures stop.

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King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia.
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
Université Côte d'Azur, CNRS, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur, IRD, Géoazur, Nice, France.
Institut Universitaire de France, Paris, France.


Injection-induced earthquakes pose a serious seismic hazard but also offer an opportunity to gain insight into earthquake physics. Currently used models relating the maximum magnitude of injection-induced earthquakes to injection parameters do not incorporate rupture physics. We develop theoretical estimates, validated by simulations, of the size of ruptures induced by localized pore-pressure perturbations and propagating on prestressed faults. Our model accounts for ruptures growing beyond the perturbed area and distinguishes self-arrested from runaway ruptures. We develop a theoretical scaling relation between the largest magnitude of self-arrested earthquakes and the injected volume and find it consistent with observed maximum magnitudes of injection-induced earthquakes over a broad range of injected volumes, suggesting that, although runaway ruptures are possible, most injection-induced events so far have been self-arrested ruptures.

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