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TitleOn the relevance of geodetic deformation rates to earthquake potential
AuthorWang, KORCID logo; Zhu, Y; Nissen, EORCID logo; Shen, Z -KORCID logo
SourceGeophysical Research Letters vol. 18, issue 11, e2021GL093231, 2021 p. 1-9,
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20200646
PublisherAmerican Geophysical Union
Mediapaper; on-line; digital
File formatpdf; html
Lat/Long WENS 90.0000 100.0000 43.0000 36.0000
Lat/Long WENS 114.0000 124.0000 39.0000 33.0000
Subjectsgeophysics; tectonics; structural geology; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; Health and Safety; satellite geodesy; earthquakes; earthquake magnitudes; earthquake mechanisms; earthquake risk; seismic risk; plate tectonics; deformation; displacement; models; bedrock geology; structural features; faults, strike-slip; stress analyses; strain analysis; Altyn Tagh Fault; Yishu Fault
Illustrationsmodels; profiles; time series; plots; location maps; geoscientific sketch maps
ProgramPublic Safety Geoscience Assessing Earthquake Geohazards
Released2021 05 04
AbstractDespite the importance of viscoelasticity in the evolution of crustal stress/strain being widely recognized, the interpretation of interseismic geodetic measurements for assessing earthquake potential is still based overwhelmingly on elastic models. The reasons for this disparity include conflating deformation rates with deformation itself and the lack of a succinct representation of the seismic readiness of a locked fault in a viscoelastic Earth. Using a classical viscoelastic model for strike-slip faults, we reiterate the commonly overlooked message that, if the recurrence interval is long, most of the strain energy for the next earthquake accrues early in the cycle, and low strain rates later in the cycle by no means indicate diminished rupture potential. Fault stress stays near failure for much of the late interseismic period which may explain why slow slip-rate faults have more variable recurrence intervals than fast slip-rate faults. We propose to use displacement deficit instead of slip deficit to represent seismic readiness.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
Modern satellite measurements can reveal how quickly faults are being loaded by tectonic plate motions, and seismic hazard models use these loading rates as a proxy for the likelihood of a pending earthquake. However, because of the partially fluid-like behavior of Earth's interior, these loading rates actually evolve with time since the last rupture. For faults with long intervals between successive earthquakes, these rates slow substantially as the next event draws near. We therefore caution that slow rates of loading should not be assumed to reflect limited earthquake potential.

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