Physics-Based Scenario of Earthquake Cycles on the Ventura Thrust System, California: The Effect of Variable Friction and Fault Geometry

TitlePhysics-Based Scenario of Earthquake Cycles on the Ventura Thrust System, California: The Effect of Variable Friction and Fault Geometry
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsOng M, Barbot S, Hubbard J
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Volume176
Issue9
Pagination3993–4007
Date Published02/2019
Abstract

The Ventura Thrust system in California is capable of producing large magnitude earthquakes. Geological studies suggest that the fault geometry is complex, composed of multiple segments at different dips: thrust ramps dipping 30°–50° linked with bed-parallel décollements dipping < 10°. These latter types of gently dipping faults form due to preexisting weaknesses in the crust, and therefore have different frictional parameters from thrust ramps; the faults also experience different stresses because of how stresses are resolved onto the fault planes. Here, we use a two-dimensional fault model to assess how geometry and frictional properties of the ramp/décollement system should affect the seismic cycle. We test velocity-strengthening, velocity-weakening, and conditionally stable décollements, and in addition explore how the dip angle of the décollement changes the earthquake behavior. A velocity-strengthening décollement cannot replicate the through-going earthquake ruptures that have been inferred for the Ventura fault system. We therefore suggest that this and other décollements may be better represented using a velocity-weakening or conditionally stable response. Our results show that minor variations in fault geometry produce slip amounts and recurrence intervals that differ only by 10–20%, but do not fundamentally alter the types of earthquakes and interseismic slip. We conclude that geological constraints on fault geometry are typically sufficient to produce modeled earthquake sequences that are statistically consistent with paleoseismic records. However, both frictional parameters along the fault and effective normal stress influence earthquake rupture patterns significantly. More research is needed to adequately constrain these quantities in order for earthquake rupture models to work as effective predictors of fault behavior.

DOI10.1007/s00024-019-02111-9