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The Aftershock Signature of Supershear Earthquakes

Abstract : Recent studies show that earthquake faults may rupture at speeds exceeding the shear wave velocity of rocks. This supershear rupture produces in the ground a seismic shock wave similar to the sonic boom produced by a supersonic airplane. This shock wave may increase the destruction caused by the earthquake. We report that supershear earthquakes are characterized by a specific pattern of aftershocks: The fault plane itself is remarkably quiet whereas aftershocks cluster off the fault, on secondary structures that are activated by the supershear rupture. The post-earthquake quiescence of the fault shows that friction is relatively uniform over supershear segments, whereas the activation of off-fault structures is explained by the shock wave radiation, which produces high stresses over a wide zone surrounding the fault.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 21, 2008 - 10:22:50 AM
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Michel Bouchon, H. Karabulut. The Aftershock Signature of Supershear Earthquakes. Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2008, 320 (6), pp.1323 à 1325. ⟨10.1126/science.1155030⟩. ⟨insu-00332509⟩



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