Effects of Off-fault Damage on Earthquake Rupture Propagation: Experimental Studies

  • Charles G. Sammis
  • Ares J. Rosakis
  • Harsha S. Bhat
Part of the Pageoph Topical Volumes book series (PTV)


We review the results of a recent series of papers in which the interaction between a dynamic mode II fracture on a fault plane and off-fault damage has been studied using high-speed photography. In these experiments, fracture damage was created in photoelastic Homalite plates by thermal shock in liquid nitrogen and rupture velocities were measured by imaging fringes at the tips. In this paper we review these experiments and discuss how they might be scaled from lab to field using a recent theoretical model for dynamic rupture propagation. Three experimental configurations were investigated: An interface between two damaged Homalite plates, an interface between damaged and undamaged Homalite plates, and the interface between damaged Homalite and undamaged polycarbonate plates. In each case, the velocity was compared with that on a fault between the equivalent undamaged plates at the same load. Ruptures on the interface between two damaged Homalite plates travel at sub-Rayleigh velocities indicating that sliding on off-fault fractures dissipates energy, even though no new damage is created, Propagation on the interface between damaged and undamaged Homalite is asymmetric. Ruptures propagating in the direction for which the compressional lobe of their cracktip stress field is in the damage (which we term the ‘C’ direction) are unaffected by the damage. In the opposite ‘T’ direction, the rupture velocity is significantly slower than the velocity in undamaged plates at the same load. Specifically, transitions to supershear observed using undamaged plates are not observed in the ‘T’ direction. Propagation on the interface between damaged Homalite and undamaged polycarbonate exhibits the same asymmetry, even though the elastically “favored” ‘+’ direction coincides with the ‘T’ direction in this case. The sealing properties of the interaction between the crack-tip field and pre-existing off-fault damage (i.e., no new damage is created) are explored using an analytic model for a nonsingular slip-weakening shear slip-pulse and verified using the velocity history of a slip pulse measured in the laboratory and a direct laboratory measurement of the interaction range using damage zones of various widths adjacent to the fault.

Key words

dynamic rupture fracture damage supershear rupture asymmetric propagation fault zone slip pulse 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ampuero, J.-P. and Ben-Zion, Y. (2008), Cracks, pulses and macroscopic asynunetry of dynamic rupture on a bimaterial interface with velocity-weakening friction, Geophys. J. Int. 173, 674–692, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2008.03736.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andrews, D.J. (2005), Rupture dynamics with energy loss outside the slip zone, J. Geophys. Res. 110, B01307, doi: 10.1029/2004JB003191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ben-Zion, Y. (2001), Dynamic ruptures in recent models of earthquake faults, J. Mech. Phys. Sol. 49, 2209–2244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ben-Zion, Y. and Sammis, C.G. (2003), Characterization of Fault Zones, Pure Appl. Geophys. 160(3), 677–715.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ben-Zion, Y. and Shi, Z. (2005), Dynamic rupture on a material interface with spontaneous generation of plastic strain in the bulk, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 236, 486–496, DOI, 10.1016/j.epsl.2005.03.025.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ben-Zion, Y., Peng, Z., Okaya, D., Seeber, L., Armbruster, J.G., Ozer, N., Michael, A.J., Baris, S., and Aktar, M. (2003), A shallow fault zone structure illuminated by trapped waves in the Karadere-Duzce branch of the North Anatolian Fault, western Turkey, Geophys. J. Int. 152, 699–717.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bhat, H.S., Biegel, R.L., Rosakis, A.J., and Sammis, C.G. (2009), The effect of asymmetric damage on dynamic shear rupture propagation II: With mismatch in bulk elasticity, J. Geophs. Res., in press.Google Scholar
  8. Biegel, R.L. and Sammis, C.G. (2004), Relating fault mechanics to fault zone structure, Adv. Geophys. 47, 65–111.Google Scholar
  9. Biegel, R.L., Sammis, C.G., and Rosakis, A.J. (2008), An experimental study of the effect of off-fault damage on the velocity of a slip pulse, J. Geophys. Res. 113, B04302, doi:10.1029/2007JB005234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Biegel, R.L., Bhat, H.S., Sammis, C.G., and Rosakis, A.J. (2009), The effect of asymmetric damage on dynamic shear rupture propagation I: No mismatch in bulk elasticity, J. Geophys. Res., in press.Google Scholar
  11. Cochard, A. and Rice, J.R. (2000), Fault rupture between dissimilar materials-Ill-posedness, regularization, and slip-pulse response, J. Geophy. Res. 105 (B11), 25,891–25,907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dor, O., Ben-Zion, Y., Rockwell, T.K., and Brune, J. (2006), Pulverized rocks in the Mojave section of the San Andreas Fault Zone, Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 245, 642–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Finzi, Y., Hearn, E.H., Ben-Zion, Y., and Lyakhovsky, V. (2009), Structural properties and deformation patterns of evolving strike-slip faults: Numerical simulations incorporating damage rheology, Pure Appl. Geophys., in press.Google Scholar
  14. Harris, R.A. and Day, S.M. (1997), Effects of a low-velocity zone on a dynamic rupture, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 87(5), 1267–1280.Google Scholar
  15. Hauksson, E. (2008), Spatial separation of large earthquakes, aftershocks, and background seismicity: Analyisi of interseismic and coseismic seismicity patterns in southern California, Pure Appl. Geophys., in press.Google Scholar
  16. Heaton, T.H. (1990), Evidence for and implications of self-healing pulses of slip in earthquake rupture, Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 64(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lewis, M.A., Peng, Z., Ben-Zion, Y., and Vernon, F. (2005), Shallow seismic trapping structure in the San Jacinto fault zone, Geophys. J. Int. 162, 867–881, doi:10.1111/j.1365-246X.2005.02684.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Li, Y.G. and Malin, P.E. (2008), San Andreas Fault damage at SAFOD viewed with fault-guided waves, Geophys. Res. Lett. 35(8), L08304, doi: 10.1029/2007GL032924.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lu, X., Lapusta, N., and Rosakis, A.J. (2007), Pulse-like and crack-like ruptures in experiments mimicking crustal earthquakes, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104(48), 18,931–18,936, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0704268104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. O’Connell, R.J. and Budiansky, B. (1974), Seismic velocities in dry and saturated cracked solids, J. Geophys. Res. 79(35), 5412–5426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Peng, Z., Ben-Zion, Y., Michael, A.J., and Zhu, L. (2003), Quantitative analysis of seismic trapped waves in the rupture zone of the 1992 Landers, California earthquake: Evidence for a shallow trapping structure, Geophys. J. Int. 155, 1021–1041.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Powers, P.M. and Jordan, T.H. (2009), Distribution of seismicity across strike-slip faults in California, J. Geophys. Res., in press.Google Scholar
  23. Ranjith, K. and Rice, J.R. (2001), Slip dynamics at an interface between dissimilar materials, J. Mech. Phys. Solids 49, 341–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rice, J.R. (2006), Heating and weakening of faults during earthquake slip, J. Geophys. Res. 111, B05311, doi:10_1029/2005JB004006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rice, J.R., Sammis, C.G., and Parsons, R. (2005). Off-fault secondary failure induced by a dynamic slip pulse, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Amer. 95(1), 109–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Rosakis, A.J., Xia, K., Lykotratis, G., and Kanamori, H. (2008), Dynamic shear rupture in frictional interfaces: Speeds, Directionality and Modes. In Treatise in Geophysics (ed. H. Kanamori), Vol. 4, 153–192.Google Scholar
  27. Rubin, A.M. and Ampuero, J.-P. (2007), Aftershock asymmetry on a bimaterial interface, J. Geophys. Res. 112, B05307, doi:10.1029/2006JB004337.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shi, Z.Q. and Ben-Zion, Y. (2006). Dynamic rupture on a bimaterial interface governed by slip-weakening friction, Geophys. J. Int. 165, 469–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shi, Z.Q., Ben-Zion, Y., and Needleman, A. (2008), Properties of dynamic rupture and energy partition in a two-dimensional elastic solid with a frictional interface, J. Mech. Phys. Solids 56, 5–24, doi:10.1016/j.jmps.2007.04.006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Templeton, E.L. and Rice, J.R. (2008), Off-fault plasticity and earthquake rupture dynamics, 1. Dry materials or neglect of fluid pressure changes, J. Geophys. Res. 113, B09306, doi:10.1029/2007JB005529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Weertman, J. (1980), Unstable slippage across a fault that separates elastic media of different elastic constants, J. Geophys. Res. 85, 1455–1461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Xia, K., Rosakis, A.J., and Kanamori, H. (2005a), Supershear and sub-Rayleigh to supershear transition observed in laboratory earthquake experiments, Exp. Tech. 29, 63–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Xia, K., Rosakis, A.J., Kanamori, H., and Rice, J.R. (2005b), Laboratory earthquakes along inhomogeneous faults: Directionality and supershear, Science 308, 681–684.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles G. Sammis
    • 1
  • Ares J. Rosakis
    • 2
  • Harsha S. Bhat
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Aeronautical LaboratoriesPasadenaUSA

Personalised recommendations