Physics-Based 3-D Simulation for Earthquake Generation Cycles at Plate Interfaces in Subduction Zones
The generation of interplate earthquakes can be regarded as a process of tectonic stress accumulation and release, driven by relative plate motion. We completed a physics-based simulation system for earthquake generation cycles at plate interfaces in the Japan region, where the Pacific plate is descending beneath the North American and Philippine Sea plates, and the Philippine Sea plate is descending beneath the North American and Eurasian plates. The system is composed of a quasi-static tectonic loading model and a dynamic rupture propagation model, developed on a realistic 3-D plate interface model. The driving force of the system is relative plate motion. In the quasi-static tectonic loading model, mechanical interaction at plate interfaces is rationally represented by the increase of tangential displacement discontinuity (fault slip) across them on the basis of dislocation theory for an elastic surface layer overlying Maxwell-type viscoelastic half-space. In the dynamic rupture propagation model, stress changes due to fault slip motion on non-planar plate interfaces are evaluated with the boundary integral equation method. The progress of seismic (dynamic) or aseismic (quasi-static) fault slip on plate interfaces is governed by a slip- and time-dependent fault constitutive law. As an example, we numerically simulated earthquake generation cycles at the source region of the 1968 Tokachi-oki earthquake on the North American-Pacific plate interface. From the numerical simulation, we can see that postseismic stress relaxation in the asthenosphere accelerates stress accumulation in the source region. When the stress state of the source region is close to a critical level, dynamic rupture is rapidly accelerated and develops over the whole source region. When the stress state is much lower than the critical level, the rupture is not accelerated. This means that the stress state realized by interseismic tectonic loading essentially controls the subsequent dynamic rupture process.