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The state of pore fluid pressure and 3D megathrust earthquake dynamics
  • Elizabeth H. Madden,
  • Thomas Ulrich,
  • Alice-Agnes Gabriel
Elizabeth H. Madden
​Universidade de Brasília, ​Universidade de Brasília

Corresponding Author:betsymadden@gmail.com

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Thomas Ulrich
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
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Alice-Agnes Gabriel
LMU Munich, LMU Munich
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We study the effects of pore fluid pressure (Pf) on the pre-earthquake, near-fault stress state and 3D earthquake rupture dynamics through 6 scenarios utilizing a structural model based on the 2004 Mw9.1 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. As pre-earthquake Pf magnitude increases, effective normal stress and fault shear strength decrease. As a result, magnitude, slip, peak slip rate, stress drop and rupture velocity of the scenario earthquakes decrease. Comparison of results with observations of the 2004 earthquake support that pre-earthquake Pf averages near 97 % of lithostatic pressure, leading to pre-earthquake average shear and effective normal tractions of 4-5 MPa and 22 MPa. The megathrust in these scenarios is weak, in terms of low mean shear traction at static failure and low dynamic friction coefficient during rupture. Apparent co-seismic principal stress rotations and absolute post-seismic stresses in these scenarios are consistent with the variety of observed aftershock focal mechanisms. In all scenarios, the mean apparent stress rotations are larger in the accretionary wedge above than below the megathrust. Scenarios with larger Pf magnitudes exhibit lower mean apparent principal stress rotations. We further evaluate pre-earthquake Pf depth distribution. If Pf follows a sub-lithostatic gradient, pre-earthquake effective normal stress increases with depth. If Pf follows the lithostatic gradient exactly, then this normal stress is constant, shifting peak slip and peak slip rate up-dip. This renders constraints on near-trench strength and constitutive behavior crucial for mitigating hazard. These scenarios provide opportunity for future calibration with site-specific measurements to constrain dynamically plausible megathrust strength and Pf gradients.
Apr 2022Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth volume 127 issue 4. 10.1029/2021JB023382