Articles | Volume 18, issue 3
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 431–439, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-18-431-2011
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 18, 431–439, 2011
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-18-431-2011

Research article 29 Jun 2011

Research article | 29 Jun 2011

Dynamics of a seismogenic fault subject to variable strain rate

M. Dragoni1 and A. Piombo2 M. Dragoni and A. Piombo
  • 1Dipartimento di Fisica, Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna – Viale Carlo Berti Pichat 8, 40127 Bologna, Italy
  • 2Dipartimento di Fisica and C.I.R.S.A., Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna – Viale C. Berti Pichat 8, 40127 Bologna, Italy

Abstract. The behaviour of seismogenic faults is generally investigated under the assumption that they are subject to a constant strain rate. We consider the effect of a slowly variable strain rate on the recurrence times of earthquakes generated by a single fault. To this aim a spring-block system is employed as a low-order analog of the fault. Two cases are considered: a sinusoidal oscillation in the driver velocity and a monotonic change from one velocity value to another. In the first case, a study of the orbit of the system in the state space suggests that the seismic activity of the equivalent fault is organized into cycles that include several earthquakes and repeat periodically. Within each cycle the recurrence times oscillate about an average value equal to the recurrence period for constant strain rate. In the second case, the recurrence time changes gradually from the value before the transition to the value following it. Asymptotic solutions are also given, approximating the case when the amplitude of the oscillation or of the monotonic change is much smaller than the average driver velocity and the period of oscillation or the duration of the transition is much longer than the recurrence times of block motions. If the system is not isolated but is subject to perturbations in stress, the perturbation anticipates or delays the subsequent earthquake. The effects of stress perturbations in the two cases of strain rate oscillations and monotonic change are considered.

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