Research Article

Extended Nucleation of the 1999 Mw 7.6 Izmit Earthquake

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Science  18 Feb 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6019, pp. 877-880
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197341

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Laboratory and theoretical studies suggest that earthquakes are preceded by a phase of developing slip instability in which the fault slips slowly before accelerating to dynamic rupture. We report here that one of the best-recorded large earthquakes to date, the 1999 moment magnitude (Mw) 7.6 Izmit (Turkey) earthquake, was preceded by a seismic signal of long duration that originated from the hypocenter. The signal consisted of a succession of repetitive seismic bursts, accelerating with time, and increased low-frequency seismic noise. These observations show that the earthquake was preceded for 44 minutes by a phase of slow slip occurring at the base of the brittle crust. This slip accelerated slowly initially, and then rapidly accelerated in the 2 minutes preceding the earthquake.

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