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Violent activity at 'stable' fault segments

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.

Nature 493, 7433 table of contents

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