Effects of Off-fault Damage on Earthquake Rupture Propagation: Experimental Studies
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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 wordsdynamic rupture fracture damage supershear rupture asymmetric propagation fault zone slip pulse
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