Hiroyuki Noda and Nadia Lapusta propose a model in which apparently 'quiet' fault segments undergoing long-term stable creep are weakened by rupture of a nearby segment, allowing unstable and destructive slip to occur. The long-term slip behaviour of the model explains a number of observations from the magnitude-9.0 2011 Tohoku-Oki and magnitude-7.6 1999 Chi-Chi earthquakes, including the high-frequency radiation arising from areas of lower slip and the largest seismic slip in the Tohoku-Oki earthquake occurring in a potentially creeping segment. The implication that earthquake rupture may break through large portions of creeping segments — currently perceived as barriers — requires re-evaluation of the seismic hazard in many areas.
- Stable creeping fault segments can become destructive as a result of dynamic weakening (Letter p518, doi: 10.1038/nature11703)
Recent Hot Topics
Sign up for Nature Research e-alerts to get the lastest research in your inbox every week.