Laboratory Earthquakes Along Inhomogeneous Faults: Directionality and Supershear

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Science  29 Apr 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5722, pp. 681-684
DOI: 10.1126/science.1108193

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We report on the experimental observation of spontaneously nucleated ruptures occurring on frictionally held bimaterial interfaces with small amounts of wave speed mismatch. Rupture is always found to be asymmetric bilateral. In one direction, rupture always propagates at the generalized Rayleigh wave speed, whereas in the opposite direction it is subshear or it transitions to supershear. The lack of a preferred rupture direction and the conditions leading to supershear are discussed in relation to existing theory and to the earthquake sequence in Parkfield, California, and in North Anatolia.

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