Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 52, Issue 12, pp 5259–5281 | Cite as

Earthquake Surface Rupture: A Brief Survey on Interdisciplinary Research and Practice from Geology to Geotechnical Engineering

  • B. B. AvarEmail author
  • N. W. Hudyma
Original Paper


Coseismic surface ruptures during desctructive earthquakes (1999 Kocaeli–Düzce, Turkey and 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan) have caused devastating effects on buildings and infrastructures. Surface rupture remains a complicated phenomenon involving variable movements along near surface traces of both primary and secondary faults. The surface rupture patterns observed in nature, the rupture zone width and the magnitude of the surface rupture displacements, depend on the type of faulting, the earthquake magnitude, the complexities of fault geometry, as well as on the thickness and nature of the materials above bedrock. Surface rupture hazard assessment for determining the width of the surface rupture and rupture displacements magnitudes for civil engineering design needs to be site specific and incorporate various geological and geotechnical investigations. The current research on laboratory and numerical simulations to evaluate the impact of surface rupture on structure foundations is promising. However, it may be misleading to conclude that such models are sufficient to simulate the surface rupture complexities as observed in nature.


Earthquake surface rupture Surface rupture width Surface rupture complexities Surface rupture mapping Construction setbacks Surface rupture modelling 



This manuscript was expended from the paper we presented at the Seattle 2018 ARMA Symposium. We thank Richard A. Schultz, the chair of the Technical Program Committee for the Seattle 2018 ARMA Symposium and the guest editor for the ARMA Special Issue of Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, for his encouragement and suggestions to prepare the manuscript. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their help to further develop the paper. We would like to acknowledge Zoe Shipton from the University of Strathclyde, Jeffrey R. Keaton from the Wood Group, and Eldon Gath from the Earth Consultants International for help finding photographs of surface ruptures. We would like to thank Fransesca R. Cinti from the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Sezione Sismologia e Tettonofisica who directed us to recent publications on the empirical relations between fault parameters and the earthquake magnitude. We thank Agust Gudmundsson from Imperial College to provide references and direction on fault progression through rock. Thanks to Christopher H. Scholz who directed us to A. Gudmundsson.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tony Gee and Partners LLP, AshfordKentUK
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringBoise State UniversityBoiseUSA

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