Earthquake source characteristics from dynamic rupture with constrained stochastic fault stress

J. Ripperger*, J. P. Ampuero, P. M. Mai, D. Giardini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


One of the challenging tasks in predicting near-source ground motion for future earthquakes is to anticipate the spatiotemporal evolution of the rupture process. The final size of an event but also its temporal properties (propagation velocity, slip velocity) depend on the distribution of shear stress on the fault plane. Though these incipient stresses are not known for future earthquakes, they might be sufficiently well characterized in a stochastic sense. We examine the evolution of dynamic rupture in numerical models of a fault subjected to heterogeneous stress fields with varying statistical properties. By exploring the parameter space of the stochastic stress characterization for a large number of random realizations we relate generalized properties of the resulting events to the stochastic stress parameters. The nucleation zone of the simulated earthquake ruptures in general has a complex shape, but its average size is found to be independent of the stress field parameterization and is determined only by the material parameters and the friction law. Furthermore, we observe a sharp transition in event size from small to system-wide events, governed mainly by the standard deviation of the stress field. A simplified model based on fracture mechanics is able to explain this transition. Finally, we find that the macroscopic rupture parameters (e.g., moment, moment rate, seismic energy) of our catalog of model quakes are generally consistent with observational data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB04311
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 4 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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