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Under the low-temperature and pressure conditions of Earth’s upper lithosphere, silicate rock responds to large strains by brittle fracture. The mechanism of brittle behavior is by the propagation of cracks, which may occur on all scales. We begin by studying this form of deformation, which is fundamental to the topics that follow.
Once a fault has been formed its further motion is controlled by friction, which is a contact property rather than a bulk property. In the schizosphere the micromechanics of friction involve brittle fracture, but frictional behavior is fundamentally different from bulk brittle fracture. Here we examine this property in some detail and, in particular, discuss the stability of friction, which determines if fault motion is seismic or aseismic.
Friction of faults is often unstable, and slip occurs rapidly as a rupture dynamically propagates over the fault surface. These sudden motions generate seismic waves, and this is the mechanism of the most common and important type of earthquake. Seismicity is thus the short-timescale phenomenon of brittle tectonics. In this chapter we discuss the dynamics of faulting and review the most important attributes of earthquakes from the point of view of the rupture process.
The most important social benefit from earthquake research is the use of that knowledge to reduce the hazard earthquakes pose to mankind. These applications may take several forms, which range from the construction of various kinds of hazard maps that permit the prediction (in a probabilistic sense) of the exposure to future ground shaking to the actual prediction of specific earthquakes. Here the current status of these developing fields is summarized.
In the previous two chapters we discussed the statics and dynamics of faulting by treating the fault as an isolated system. We now place the fault into the tectonic engine and consider its behavior when coupled to the loading system. Observational results and models are combined to determine the nature of this loading system, and we explore the nature of the seismic cycle.
We now discuss the role of earthquakes in a variety of tectonic settings and, in particular, the relative role of seismic and aseismic faulting. The stability of faulting, which has been considered only for continental fault zones, is examined for oceanic faults, subduction zones, and other tectonic settings. We also review what lessons may be learned from induced seismicity.
Brittle tectonics may be considered on two timescales, in which earthquakes are the short-timescale phenomena and faulting is the long timescale process. Faults grow and develop by the cumulative action of earthquakes, and the faults therefore contain the history of past seismicity. In this chapter we discuss the mechanics of faults, which are treated as quasi-static shear cracks with friction. We begin with a discussion of the elementary theory of faulting, followed by a more modern treatment of the formation and growth of faults and a description of the rocks and structures formed by faulting. Here we rely more heavily on geological observations than elsewhere. We summarize with a discussion of the strength and rheology of faults, finishing with the topic of heterogeneity and its role in faulting, which continues a subtheme to be found throughout this book.
This essential reference for graduate students and researchers provides a unified treatment of earthquakes and faulting as two aspects of brittle tectonics at different timescales. The intimate connection between the two is manifested in their scaling laws and populations, which evolve from fracture growth and interactions between fractures. The connection between faults and the seismicity generated is governed by the rate and state dependent friction laws - producing distinctive seismic styles of faulting and a gamut of earthquake phenomena including aftershocks, afterslip, earthquake triggering, and slow slip events. The third edition of this classic treatise presents a wealth of new topics and new observations. These include slow earthquake phenomena; friction of phyllosilicates, and at high sliding velocities; fault structures; relative roles of strong and seismogenic versus weak and creeping faults; dynamic triggering of earthquakes; oceanic earthquakes; megathrust earthquakes in subduction zones; deep earthquakes; and new observations of earthquake precursory phenomena.