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Three-Dimensional Elastodynamic Modeling of Frictional Sliding with Application to Intersonic Transition


Liu, Yi (2009) Three-Dimensional Elastodynamic Modeling of Frictional Sliding with Application to Intersonic Transition. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/JWCV-8V74.


Spontaneous slip on frictional interfaces involves both short-lived inertially-driven events and long-term quasi-static sliding. An example of considerable practical importance is the response of faults in the Earth's crust to tectonic loading. The response combines earthquakes that cause destructive ground motions and aseismic slip. Numerical models are needed to study the physics and mechanics of such complex behavior. In part, the models can help understand the observed slip patterns and interpret them in terms of constitutive properties of rocks determined in the lab.

This thesis contains two main contributions. The first one is the development and implementation of a 3D methodology for simulations of spontaneous long-term interface slip punctuated by rapid inertially driven ruptures. Our approach is the first one to combine long-term deformation histories and the resulting stress redistribution on faults with full inclusion of inertial effects during simulated earthquakes in the context of 3D models. It reproduces all stages of earthquake cycles, from accelerating slip before dynamic instability, to rapid inertially driven propagation of earthquake rupture, to post-seismic slip, and to interseismic creep, including aseismic transients. The second main contribution is the discovery of the potentially dominating effect of favorable heterogeneity on intersonic transition in earthquakes, in both 2D models of single dynamic ruptures and 3D models of long-term fault slip. Studies of intersonic ruptures are practically important as they have the potential to cause strong ground motion farther from the fault than subsonic ruptures. Our conclusion that rheological boundaries promote transition to intersonic speeds in 3D rupture models is completely unexpected, as the neighboring stably slipping regions inhibit fast, inertially driven slip. The result could not be established in earlier studies, as it requires the computational methodology developed here that combines inertial effects, long-term slip histories, and 3D fault models. The thesis also develops test problems for dynamic rupture propagation and evaluates simplified quasi-dynamic approaches.

The obtained results emphasize that dynamic ruptures should be considered in the context of the entire slip history of the fault, as such approach allows dynamic ruptures to occur under stress conditions established by prior slip, which leads to characteristic stress distributions that are not considered in single-event simulations. The developed 3D methodology can be applied to a number of problems in earthquake physics and mechanics that involve interaction of seismic and aseismic slip.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:boundary-integral equations; dynamic fracture; earthquake physics; earthquake sequences; effects of heterogeneities; mechanics of faulting; rheological boundaries; seismic and aseismic slips; spontaneous ruptures; supershear transition
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Mechanical Engineering
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Lapusta, Nadia
Thesis Committee:
  • Lapusta, Nadia (chair)
  • Ravichandran, Guruswami
  • Avouac, Jean-Philippe
  • Bhattacharya, Kaushik
  • Heaton, Thomas H.
Defense Date:22 September 2008
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-02142009-181805
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:638
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:16 Mar 2009
Last Modified:26 Nov 2019 19:15

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