The 2001 Kunlun, Tibet earthquake taught us that the portion of a strike-slip fault most likely to propagate at super-shear speeds are the long straight portions. This is only a necessary (but not sufficient) condition. That is, once a fault accelerates to the maximum permissible speed, it can continue at this speed provided it is straight and there are no obstacles along the way, and provided the fault friction is low. For the Tibet earthquake, the 100 km region of highest rupture speed also had the highest slip rate, the highest slip and the highest stress drop (Robinson et al., JGR, 2006). Off-fault cracks due to the passage of the Mach cone exists in only that portion of the fault identified as travelling at super-shear speed and not in other places along the fault (Bhat et al., JGR, 2007). Re-examination of earlier reports of super-shear rupture speeds on the North Anatolian fault and the Denali fault show that such speeds did occur on the straight section of these faults. Of course all straight portions of faults will not reach super-shear speeds. So what can the Tibet earthquake teach us about the San Andreas fault? Both the 1906 and the 1857 have long, straight portions, the former having been identified by Song et al. (EOS, 2005) as having reached super-shear speeds to the north of San Francisco, the region of highest slip. If the repeat of the 1857 starts in the central valley, as it is believed to have done in 1857, it has the potential to propagate at super-shear speeds through the long, straight portion of the San Andread fault in the Carrizo Plain, the region believed to have had the largest displacement in 1857 based on paleoseismic studies. The resulting shock waves would strike the highly populated regions of Santa Barbara and the Los Angeles Basin (Das, Science, 2007).
AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts
- Pub Date:
- December 2007
- 7209 Earthquake dynamics (1242);
- 8118 Dynamics and mechanics of faulting (8004);
- 8163 Rheology and friction of fault zones (8034)