Fault, Heal Thyself

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Science  29 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5564, pp. 2327
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5564.2327a

Large earthquakes are known to recur on major faults, but before the next earthquake can happen, the previous rupture must first heal. Determining the amount of time for the new fractures (generated by shear faulting during the main shock) to disappear and for the tectonic stress cracks to reappear would facilitate hazard assessment along active faults.

Tadokoro and Ando used shear wave anisotropy analysis to show that the Nojima fault in Japan, site of the 1995 Hyogo-ken Nanbu earthquake (moment magnitude = 6.9), has healed in just 33 months. This rapid healing suggests that communities may need to remain on alert for further seismicity even soon after a recent event. — LR

Geophys. Res. Lett.29, 10.1029/2001GL013644 (2002).

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