Fracture surface energy of the Punchbowl fault, San Andreas system. Academic Article uri icon


  • Fracture energy is a form of latent heat required to create an earthquake rupture surface and is related to parameters governing rupture propagation and processes of slip weakening. Fracture energy has been estimated from seismological and experimental rock deformation data, yet its magnitude, mechanisms of rupture surface formation and processes leading to slip weakening are not well defined. Here we quantify structural observations of the Punchbowl fault, a large-displacement exhumed fault in the San Andreas fault system, and show that the energy required to create the fracture surface area in the fault is about 300 times greater than seismological estimates would predict for a single large earthquake. If fracture energy is attributed entirely to the production of fracture surfaces, then all of the fracture surface area in the Punchbowl fault could have been produced by earthquake displacements totalling <1 km. But this would only account for a small fraction of the total energy budget, and therefore additional processes probably contributed to slip weakening during earthquake rupture.

published proceedings

  • Nature

author list (cited authors)

  • Chester, J. S., Chester, F. M., & Kronenberg, A. K.

citation count

  • 250

complete list of authors

  • Chester, Judith S||Chester, Frederick M||Kronenberg, Andreas K

publication date

  • January 2005

published in