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Stability of Pulse‐Like Earthquake Ruptures

Brantut, N; Garagash, DI; Noda, H; (2019) Stability of Pulse‐Like Earthquake Ruptures. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth , 124 (8) pp. 8998-9020. 10.1029/2019JB017926. Green open access

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Abstract

Pulse-like ruptures arise spontaneously in many elastodynamic rupture simulations and seem to be the dominant rupture mode along crustal faults. Pulse-like ruptures propagating under steady-state conditions can be efficiently analysed theoretically, but it remains unclear how they can arise and how they evolve if perturbed. Using thermal pressurisation as a representative constitutive law, we conduct elastodynamic simulations of pulse-like ruptures and determine the spatio-temporal evolution of slip, slip rate and pulse width perturbations induced by infinitesimal perturbations in background stress. These simulations indicate that steady-state pulses driven by thermal pressurisation are unstable. If the initial stress perturbation is negative, ruptures stop; conversely, if the perturbation is positive, ruptures grow and transition to either self-similar pulses (at low background stress) or expanding cracks (at elevated background stress). Based on a dynamic dislocation model, we develop an elastodynamic equation of motion for slip pulses, and demonstrate that steady-state slip pulses are unstable if their accrued slip $b$ is a decreasing function of the uniform background stress $\tau_\mathrm{b}$. This condition is satisfied by slip pulses driven by thermal pressurisation. The equation of motion also predicts quantitatively the growth rate of perturbations, and provides a generic tool to analyse the propagation of slip pulses. The unstable character of steady-state slip pulses implies that this rupture mode is a key one determining the minimum stress conditions for sustainable ruptures along faults, i.e., their ``strength''. Furthermore, slip pulse instabilities can produce a remarkable complexity of rupture dynamics, even under uniform background stress conditions and material properties.

Type: Article
Title: Stability of Pulse‐Like Earthquake Ruptures
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1029/2019JB017926
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2019JB017926
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10079878
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