Sensitivity analysis for crustal rheological profiles: examples from the Aegean Region

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Massimiliano Maggini
Riccardo Caputo


We tested the validity of rheological profiles and their sensitivity to variations in the input parameters, with particular emphasis on the resulting BDT (brittle-ductile transition) depth and corresponding strength and temperature. For this purpose, we selected two test-sites from the Aegean Region, one in an extensional tectonic setting and the other in a strike-slip regime, and carefully realized the corresponding “reference” rheological profiles based on literature data and specific geological constraints. The reference envelopes have been then compared with a set of different profiles realized by varying the input parameters of the constitutive equations of the brittle and ductile behaviours within reasonable ranges. Firstly, tests were performed by changing the value of only one input parameter per time, with the aim of quantifying and comparing its influence on the BDT properties. The parameters exerting the greatest control are the activation energy, the power-law exponent and the surface heat flow (through its influence on the geothermal gradient), for the creep behaviour. As regards the brittle behaviour parameters, the friction coefficient and the pore fluid pressure could play a significant role especially in determining the maximum strength. In a second phase, we simultaneously varied all the input parameters in order to consider the possible synergistic effects on the resulting rheological profiles and to verify the likelihood and consistency of the reference models. For the statistical approach, one hundred thousand random combinations of the analysed parameters have been generated. The particular care spent on selecting the range of values of each parameter is reflected in the results of the statistical analyses, which show a good agreement with the reference profiles and allow estimating the overall uncertainties. Finally, the obtained strength envelopes have been compared with the accurately relocated depth distribution of recent seismic sequences that affected the two test areas. In both cases, the depth corresponding to the 95% of the total released energy nicely fits the BDT depth obtained from the rheological modelling, therefore confirming that this parameter could represent a reasonable and reliable approximation of the seismogenic layer thickness.

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Maggini M, Caputo R. Sensitivity analysis for crustal rheological profiles: examples from the Aegean Region. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2020Jun.27 [cited 2022Sep.27];63(3):GT334. Available from:
Geodynamics and Tectonophysics

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