Inelastic response of compliant fault zones to nearby earthquakes in three dimensions
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Using dynamic modeling of earthquake rupture on a strike-slip fault and seismic wave propagation in a three dimensional inhomogeneous elastoplastic medium, we investigate the inelastic response of compliant fault zones to nearby earthquakes. We primarily examine the plastic strain distribution within the fault zone and the displacement field that characterizes the effects of the presence of the fault zone. We find that when the fault zone rocks are close to failure in the prestress field, plastic strain occurs along the entire fault zone near the Earth's surface and some portions of the fault zone in the extensional quadrant at depth, while the remaining portion deforms elastically. Plastic strain enhances the surface displacement of the fault zone, and the enhancement in the extensional quadrant is stronger than that in the compressive quadrant. Inelastic response may be distinguished from elastic response by sympathetic motion (or reduced retrograde motion) exhibited in the fault-parallel horizontal surface displacement in conjunction with enhanced vertical surface displacement in a strike-slip faulting environment. These findings suggest that taking into account both elastic and inelastic deformation of fault zones to nearby earthquakes may improve our estimations of fault zone structure and properties from small-scale surface deformation signals. Furthermore, identifying the inelastic response of nearby fault zones to large earthquakes may allow us to place some constraints on the absolute stress level in the crust. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
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