New Frontiers in Integrated Solid Earth Sciences

Part of the series International Year of Planet Earth pp 287-314


Non-volcanic Tremor: A Window into the Roots of Fault Zones

  • Justin L. RubinsteinAffiliated withUnited States Geological Survey; Email author 
  • , David R. ShellyAffiliated withUnited States Geological Survey;
  • , William L. EllsworthAffiliated withUnited States Geological Survey;

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The recent discovery of non-volcanic tremor in Japan and the coincidence of tremor with slow-slip in Cascadia have made earth scientists reevaluate our models for the physical processes in subduction zones and on faults in general. Subduction zones have been studied very closely since the discovery of slow-slip and tremor. This has led to the discovery of a number of related phenomena including low frequency earthquakes and very low frequency earthquakes. All of these events fall into what some have called a new class of events that are governed under a different frictional regime than simple brittle failure. While this model is appealing to many, consensus as to exactly what process generates tremor has yet to be reached. Tremor and related events also provide a window into the deep roots of subduction zones, a poorly understood region that is largely devoid of seismicity. Given that such fundamental questions remain about non-volcanic tremor, slow-slip, and the region in which they occur, we expect that this will be a fruitful field for a long time to come.


Tremor ETS Slow earthquakes Slow-slip