Earthquake dynamics constrained from laboratory experiments: new insights from granular materials

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Andrea Bizzarri
Alberto Petri
Andrea Baldassarri


The traction evolution is a fundamental ingredient to model the dynamics of an earthquake rupture which ultimately controls, during the coseismic phase, the energy release, the stress redistribution and the consequent excitation of seismic waves. In the present paper we explore the use of the friction behavior derived from laboratory shear experiments performed on granular materials at low normal stress. We find that the rheological properties emerging from these laboratory experiments can not be described in terms of preexisting governing models already presented in literature; our results indicate that neither rate–and state–dependent friction laws nor nonlinear slip–dependent models, commonly adopted for modeling earthquake ruptures, are able to capture all the features of the experimental data. Then, by exploiting a novel numerical approach, we directly incorporate the laboratory data into a code to simulate the fully dynamic propagation of a 3–D slip failure. We demonstrate that the rheology of the granular material, imposed as fault boundary condition, is dynamically consistent. Indeed, it is able to reproduce the basic features of a crustal earthquake, spontaneously accelerating up to some terminal rupture speed, both sub– and supershear.

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How to Cite
Bizzarri, A., Petri, A. and Baldassarri, A. (2021) “Earthquake dynamics constrained from laboratory experiments: new insights from granular materials”, Annals of Geophysics, 64(4), p. SE441. doi: 10.4401/ag-8613.
Author Biography

Andrea Bizzarri, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione di Bologna

Andrea Bizzarri (AB) is a physicist (with magna cum laude honor from the Università degli Studi di Bologna, Bologna, Italy, 1998).

AB received a Ph.D. degree in geophysics from the Università degli Studi di Bologna, Bologna, Italy, in 2003.

AB' s expertises spread over many different aspects of earthquake source dynamics, including the study of fault triggering phenomena, the modeling of the physical processes occurring during faulting, the inference of fault governing equations from laboratory experiments. Fundamental problems in theoretical seismology are of great importance in his research. As a part of his research, AB has been actively involved in the development of massively parallel numerical algorithms to be used in the numerical models.

AB is a Full Researcher at the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - Sezione di Bologna.


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