Earthquakes on Dipping Faults: The Effects of Broken Symmetry

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Science  15 May 1998:
Vol. 280, Issue 5366, pp. 1055-1059
DOI: 10.1126/science.280.5366.1055

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Dynamic simulations of earthquakes on dipping faults show asymmetric near-source ground motion caused by the asymmetric geometry of such faults. The ground motion from a thrust or reverse fault is larger than that of a normal fault by a factor of 2 or more, given identical initial stress magnitudes. The motion of the hanging wall is larger than that of the footwall in both thrust (reverse) and normal earthquakes. The asymmetry between normal and thrust (reverse) faults results from time-dependent normal stress caused by the interaction of the earthquake-generated stress field with Earth's free surface. The asymmetry between hanging wall and footwall results from the asymmetric mass and geometry on the two sides of the fault.

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