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Modeling precursory laboratory seismicity using a wear-based rate- and state-dependent friction model
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  • Paul Antony Selvadurai,
  • Percy Galvez,
  • P. Martin Mai,
  • Steven Glaser,
  • Stefan Wiemer
Paul Antony Selvadurai
ETH Zurich

Corresponding Author:paul.selvadurai@sed.ethz.ch

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Percy Galvez
King Abdullah University of Science & Technology
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P. Martin Mai
King Abdullah University of Science & Technology
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Steven Glaser
University of California, Berkeley, CA
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Stefan Wiemer
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We develop a rate- and state-dependent friction (RSF) model to investigate a compendium of recent experiments performed in the laboratory. In the documented experiments, a fault was sheared until macroscopic stick-slip frictional failure. Before macro-failure, small precursor seismicity nucleated from regions that also experienced aseismic slow slip. This behavior requires heterogeneity and is defined in our model as local variation in frictional parameters inferred from the roughness. During sliding wear introduced a smooth-polished surface onto a previously rough surface and was quantified using a bimodal Gaussian distribution of surface heights. We used spatial distribution of the smooth and rough sections to impose binary partitioning in critical slip distance $D_{c}$ to a planar frictional model. Simulations revealed that local seismicity nucleated on the “smooth’ sections, while the larger “rough’ section hosted aseismic slip. As the level of heterogeneity between smooth and rough sections increased, the model transitioned from a predominantly stick-slip to creeping. The simulations produced a dominant asperity, which appeared to control aspects of rupture nucleation: ($i$) weak heterogeneity caused the dominant asperity to generate foreshocks but also “ignite’ cascade-up fault-wide event, while ($ii$) strong heterogeneity led to constrained repeaters. Seismic source properties: average slip $\delta$, seismic moment $M_{0}$, stress drop $\Delta \tau$ and fracture energy $G^{’}$, were determined for each event and agreed with separate kinematic estimates made independently from seismic measurements. Our numerical calculations provide insight into rate-dependent cascade-up nucleation theory where frictional heterogeneity here was associated with wear of solid frictional contacts in the laboratory.