The role of three-dimensional fault interactions in creating complex seismic sequences

Yifan Yin, Percy Galvez, Elías Rafn Heimisson, Stefan Wiemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A physics-based earthquake simulator should reproduce first-order empirical power-law behaviors of magnitudes and clustering. These laws have emerged spontaneously in either discrete or low-dimension continuum simulations without power-law or stochastic heterogeneity. We show that the same emergence can occur in 3-D continuum simulations with fault interactions and rate-and-state friction. Our model approximates a strike-slip fault system as three en echelon faults. Simulations show spatio-temporally clustered earthquake sequences exhibiting characteristic Gutenberg-Richter scaling as well as empirical inter-event time distribution. The Gutenberg-Richter scaling occurs only in partial ruptures that result from fault interactions. With fault interactions, partial ruptures emerge when seismogenic width W over characteristic nucleation length L∞ is larger than 16.24, but none occur without fault interaction. The mainshock recurrence times of individual faults remain quasi-periodic. The system mainshock recurrence time is a combination of short-term Omori-type decay and Brownian passage time. Higher W/L∞ increase short-term clustering probability to at most 30%. These results indicate that physics-based multi-cycle models adequately reflect observed statistical signatures and show practical potential for long-term hazard assessment and medium-term forecasting.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118056
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Feb 27 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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