Trade-off between seismic source detail and crustal heterogeneities in spherical 3D finite element modeling: a 2004 Sumatra earthquake case study

Manuela Volpe, Daniele Melini, Antonio Piersanti


Finite-element methods are a powerful numerical simulation tool for modeling seismic events, as they allow three-dimensional complex models to be solved. We used a three-dimensional finite-element approach to evaluate the co-seismic displacement field produced by the devastating 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake, which caused permanent deformations that were recorded by continuously operating GPS networks in a region of unprecedented area. Previous analysis of the static displacement fields have focused on the heterogeneous distribution of moment release on the fault plane; our intention here is to investigate how much the presence of crustal heterogeneities trades-off seismic source details. To achieve this aim, we adopted a quite simple source model in modeling the event. The key feature of our analysis is the generation of a complex three-dimensional spherical domain. Moreover, we also carried out an accurate analysis concerning the boundary conditions, which are crucial for finite-element simulations.


finite element method; 3D modeling; static deformation; Sumatra earthquake

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN:  2037-416X