Quantitative prediction of strong motion for a potential earthquake fault

Keiiti Aki, Michel Bouchon, Bernard Chouet, Shamita Das


This paper describes a new method for calculating strong motion records for a given seismic region on the basis of the laws of physics using information on the tectonics and physical properties of the earthquake fault. Our method is based on a earthquake model, called a «barrier model», which is characterized by five source parameters: fault length, width, maximum slip, rupture velocity, and barrier interval. The first three parameters may be constrained from plate tectonics, and the fourth parameter is roughly a constant. The most important parameter controlling the earthquake strong motion is the last parameter, «barrier interval». There are three methods to estimate the barrier interval for a given seismic region: 1) surface measurement of slip across fault breaks, 2) model fitting with observed near and far-field seismograms, and 3) scaling law data for small earthquakes in the region. The barrier intervals were estimated for a dozen earthquakes and four seismic regions by the above three methods. Our preliminary results for California suggest that the barrier interval may be determined if the maximum slip is given. The relation between the barrier interval and maximum slip varies from one seismic region to another. For example, the interval appears to be unusually long for Kilauea, Hawaii, which may explain why only scattered evidence of strong ground shaking was observed in the epicentral area of the Island of Hawaii earthquake of November 29, 1975. The stress drop associated with an individual fault segment estimated from the barrier interval and maximum slip lies between 100 and 1000 bars. These values are about one order of magnitude greater than those estimated earlier by the use of crack models without barriers. Thus, the barrier model can resolve, at least partially, the well known discrepancy between the stress-drops measured in the laboratory and those estimated for earthquakes.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-4665
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X