Zeno Karl Schindler Award 2020 - François Passelègue
The nature of fluid induced earthquakes
For his important and impactful contributions to the fields of earthquake mechanics. His research has led to better understanding of the earthquakes dynamic underground rupture nucleation and propagation.
Modern geophysics highlights that the slip behaviour response of faults is variable in space and time and can result in slow or fast ruptures. Despite geodetical, seismological, experimental and field observations, the origin of this variation of the rupture velocity in nature, as well as the physics behind it, is still debated. Here, we first discuss the scaling relationships existing for the different types of fault slip observed in nature and we highlight how they appear to stem from the same physical mechanism. Second, we reproduce at the scale of the laboratory the complete spectrum of rupture velocities observed in nature. Our results show that when the nucleation length is within the fault length, the rupture velocity can range from a few millimeters to kilometers per second, depending on the available energy at the onset of slip. Our results are analysed in the framework of linear elastic fracture mechanics and highlight that the nature of seismicity is governed mostly by the initial stress level along the faults. This combined set of field and experimental observations bring a new explanation of the dominance of slow rupture fronts in the shallow part of the crust or in areas suspected to present large fluid pressure.