pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 143, Issue 1–3, pp 457–482 | Cite as

Earthquake mechanism and predictability shown by a laboratory fault

  • Chi-Yu King
Rock Friction and Shear Zone Mechanics: Laboratory Studies


Slip events generated in a laboratory fault model consisting of a circulinear chain of eight spring-connected blocks of approximately equal weight elastically driven to slide on a frictional surface are studied. It is found that most of the input strain energy is released by a relatively few large events, which are approximately time predictable. A large event tends to roughen stress distribution along the fault, whereas the subsequent smaller events tend to smooth the stress distribution and prepare a condition of simultaneous criticality for the occurrence of the next large event. The frequency-size distribution resembles the Gutenberg-Richter relation for earthquakes, except for a falloff for the largest events due to the finite energy-storage capacity of the fault system. Slip distributions, in different events are commonly dissimilar. Stress drop, slip velocity, and rupture velocity all tend to increase with event size. Rupture-initiation locations are usually not close to the maximum-slip locations.

Key words

Earthquake prediction fault slip stress drop friction chaotic self-organized criticality fractal 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chi-Yu King
    • 1
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyMenlo ParkU.S.A.

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