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Do some shallow earthquakes have a tensile source component?


The laboratory tests carried out in studying shear and tensile seismogenic displacements occurring in compressed samples, led us to search for earthquakes with a tensile source component. To determine this component in the seismic focus, a special procedure based on the construction of radiation patterns of the combined shear-tensile type is introduced.

The criteria for selecting the events produced by the combined source mechanism are listed, and their limitations are mentioned. From the seismic zones with good azimuthal distribution of stations in the world seismic network nine earthquakes which occurred in the 6-year period 1976–1981 were analyzed; for these events better agreement of the observed and theoretical patterns was found for the combined shear-tensile source mechanism than for the pure double-couple mechanism. However, the share of the tensile component was always, found to be relatively small, ranging from 1 to 13 percent of the shear component. The comparison of the two solutions (double-couple vs. combined shear/tensile) is based on the first onset signs statistics.

The results obtained indicate that tensile fracturing does not play a substantial role in the total amount of released seismic energy; on the orther hand, it is expected to be more important in the creation and development of focal zone morphology from both the instantaneous and long-term point of view.

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Šílený, J., Ritsema, A.R., Csikos, I. et al. Do some shallow earthquakes have a tensile source component?. PAGEOPH 124, 825–840 (1986).

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Key words

  • Physical modelling
  • tensile fracturing
  • shallow earthquakes
  • tensile source component