Earth, Planets and Space

, Volume 56, Issue 12, pp 1087–1093 | Cite as

Modeling slips and nucleation processes at the deeper part of the seismogenic zone

  • Bunichiro Shibazaki
  • Norio Shigematsu
  • Hidemi Tanaka
Open Access


Important issues with regard to the generation processes of large inland earthquakes include how the stress concentrates and how nucleation starts in the deeper part of the seismogenic zone prior to the mainshock. We propose a model of earthquake generation processes that uses a constitutive law combining friction and flow processes. Using this law, we can represent fault behavior in which frictional slip coexists with flow processes at the frictional-viscous transition zone. We consider a limitted region where viscous deformation is high along the frictional-viscous transition zone, and investigate the role of this region in the nucleation process. During the interseismic period, slip velocity due to flow is much larger than frictional slip velocity in the region of low viscosity in the deeper part of the seismogenic zone. Large slip due to flow in this region is thought to cause stress to concentrate in the surrounding regions, and nucleation starts just above the low-viscosity region. Our numerical simulations indicate that the location of the nucleation process is determined by the nonuniform distribution of the depth of the frictional-viscous transition zone.

Key words

Nucleation process a constitutive law combining friction and flow frictional-viscous transition low-viscosity region 


  1. Chester, F. M., A rheologic model for wet crust applied to strike-slip faults, J. Geophys. Res., 100, 13,033–13,044, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Estrin, Y. and Y. Brchet, On a model of frictional sliding, Pageoph., 147, 1996.Google Scholar
  3. Garatani, K., B. Shibazaki, Y. Iio, T. Sagiya, and H. Okuda, FEM modeling crustal deformation with non-linear visco-elasticity, plasticity, and faulting, Earth Planets Space, 2005 (submitted).Google Scholar
  4. Iio, Y. and Y. Kobayashi, Is the plastic flow uniformly distribted below the seismogenic region?, Earth Planets Space, 54, 1085–1090, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Iio, Y., Y. Kobayashi, and T. Tada, Large earthquakes initiated by the acceleration of slips on the downward extensions of seismogenic faults, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 202, 337–343, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ito, K., Regional variations of the cutoff depth of seismicity in the crust and their relation to heat flow and large inland earthquakes, J. Phys. Earth, 38, 223–250, 1990.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Iwasaki, T. and R. Sato, Strain field in a semi-infinite medium due to an inclined rectangular fault, J. Phys. Earth, 27, 285–314, 1979.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kato, N., A possible model for large preseismic slip on a deeper extension of a seismic rupture plane, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 216, 17–25, 2003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kato, N. and T. Hirasawa, A numerical study on seismic coupling along subduction zones using a laboratory-derived friction law, Phys. Earth Planet. Inter., 102, 51–68, 1997.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Marone, C., Laboratory-derived frictional laws and their application to seismic faulting, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci., 94, 12,321–12,335, 1998.Google Scholar
  11. Masuda, K., K. Fujimoto, and T. Arai, A new gas-medium, high-pressure and high-temperature deformation apparatus at AIST, Japan, Earth Planets Space, 54, 1091–1094, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Nakatani, M., Conceptual and physical clarification of rate and state dependent friction law: Thermally activated rheology of frictional sliding, J. Geophys. Res., 106, 13,347–13,380, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Okubo, P. G., Dynamic rupture modeling with laboratory-derived constitutive relations, J. Geophys. Res., 94, 12,321–12,335, 1989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Poirier, J. P., Creep of Crystals, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1985.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Reinen, L. A., Slip styles in a spring-slider model with a laboratory-derived constitutive law for serpentinite, Geophys. Res. Lett., 27, 2037–2040, 2000.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rice, J. R., Spatio-temporal complexity of slip on a fault, J. Geophys. Res., 98, 9885–9907, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Scholz, C. H., The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting, Cambridge University Press, 1990.Google Scholar
  18. Shibazaki, B. and Y. Iio, On the physical mechanism of silent slip events along the deeper part of the seismogenic zone, Geophys. Res. Lett., 30, 2003GL017047, 2003.Google Scholar
  19. Shibazaki, B., H. Tanaka, H. Horikawa, and Y. Iio, Modeling slip processes at the deeper part of the seismogenic zone using a constitutive law combining friction and flow laws, Earth Planets Space, 54, 1211–1218, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Shigematsu, N., K. Fujimoto, T. Ohtani, H. Tanaka, Y. Miyashita, and T. Tomita, Structures of fault zones in the brittle-plastic transition zone of the continental earth’s crust: A case study of the Hatagawa fault zone, Journal of Geography, 112, 897–914, 2003 (in Japanese with English abstract).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Shimamoto, T., A transition between frictional slip and ductile flow undergoing large shearing deformation at room temperature, Science, 231, 711–714, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tanaka, H., B. Shibazaki, N. Shigematsu, K. Fujimoto, T. Ohtani, Y. Miyashita, T. Tomita, K. Omura, Y. Kobayashi, and J. Kameda, Growth of plastic shear zone and its duration inferred from theoretical consideration and observation of an ancient shear zone in the granitic crust, Earth Planets Space, 54, 1207–1210, 2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tse, S. T. and J. R. Rice, Crustal earthquake instability in relation to the depth variation of frictional slip properties, J. Geophys. Res., 91, 9452–9472, 1986.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Zhao, D., H. Kanamori, and H. Negishi, Tomography of the source area of the 1995 Kobe earthquake: Evidence for fluids at the hypocenter?, Science, 274, 1891–1894, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Society of Geomagnetism and Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences (SGEPSS); The Seismological Society of Japan; The Volcanological Society of Japan; The Geodetic Society of Japan; The Japanese Society for Planetary Sciences. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bunichiro Shibazaki
    • 1
  • Norio Shigematsu
    • 2
  • Hidemi Tanaka
    • 3
  1. 1.International Institute of Seismology and Earthquake EngineeringBuilding Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Geological Survey of Japan, AISTAIST Tsukuba Central 7TsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan

Personalised recommendations