The structure, rheology, and rupture mechanics of seismogenic faulting in continental lithosphere
AffiliationSchool of Earth Sciences
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2020 Haibin Yang
This thesis explores relationships between the structure, rheology, and rupture properties of seismogenic faulting in continental lithosphere from four different perspectives. First, I derive a scaling relationship that links the spacing between two nearly parallel strike-slip faults to the frictional strength, fault width, and lower crust viscosity for strike-slip shear zones. Based on the scaling law, I estimate a possible range of lower crust viscosity in the San Andreas Fault system (California), the Marlborough Fault Zone (New Zealand) and central Tibet (China). Second, using numerical modelling methods, I explore how lower crust rheology contrast may affect the long-term evolution of a major plate boundary fault. The case study is based on the San Andreas Fault, which is found to vary dipping angles (~50-90 degree) along strike. The moderately dipping strike-slip fault is not consistent with Anderson faulting theory. This inconsistency may be reconciled if there are lateral variations in the lower crustal rheology across the fault plane that decrease fault dip with time. Third, in addition to strike-slip faults in active tectonic settings, my study also includes reverse faults in stable cratonic regions, especially for the cratonic areas of western and southern Australia. I apply statistical methods to investigate the co-seismic slip distribution of 11 surface-rupturing earthquakes in Australian stable regions and provide a link between the shape and characteristics of co-seismic slip distributions and the geophysical properties of the host crust. Fourth, using a comprehensive geophysical survey with the co-located 13GA-EG1 and 12GA-AF3 seismic reflection profiles and magnetotelluric profiles and regional gravity and magnetic maps in the Nullarbor Plain (Australia), I find that faults initiated back to the Proterozoic could still be reactivated in a Cenozoic convergent setting, especially for those major faults cutting to deep crust. Those deep-penetrating faults at terrane boundaries could be a potential channel for fluids to pass through, and thus further weakened by the fluids, which is revealed by high-conductivity anomaly in magnetotelluric profiles. The last research chapter of this thesis addresses a technical issue in the particle-in-cell finite element method, which is widely used in geodynamic numerical modelling. As mixing materials with contrasting viscosity within one element results in stress fluctuations, I assess different smoothing methods to reduce the spurious stress in mixed-material elements.
KeywordsSan Andreas Fault; Tibet; Marlborough Fault Zone; fault spacing; Garlock Fault; lower crust; strain partition; seismic hazard; cratonic earthquakes; rupture complexity; coseismic slip; intraplate deformation; Nullarbor plain; fluids in crust; fault reactivativity; stress smoothing; particle in cell; finite element
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