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Depth dependent stress revealed by aftershocks

Abstract : Characterising the state of stress in the brittle upper-crust is essential in mechanics of faulting, industrial production processes, and operational earthquake forecasting. Nevertheless, unresolved questions concern the variation of pore-fluid with depth and the absolute strength on tectonically active faults. Here we show that, along the San Andreas fault system, the time-delay before the onset of the power-law aftershock decay rate (the c-value) varies by three orders of magnitude in the first 20 km below the surface. Despite the influence of the lithostatic stress, there is no continuous change in c-value with depth. Instead, two decay phases are separated by an abrupt increase at an intermediate depth range of 2-5 km. This transitional regime is the only one observed in fluid-injection-induced seismic areas. This provides strong evidence for the role of fluid and a porosity reduction mechanism at depth of few kilometres in active fault zones. Aftershock statistics can then be used to predict changes in differential shear stress with depth until the brittle-ductile transition is reached.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, August 10, 2022 - 3:14:31 PM
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Peter Shebalin, Clément Narteau. Depth dependent stress revealed by aftershocks. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 8, 272, p. 44-49. ⟨10.1038/s41467-017-01446-y⟩. ⟨insu-03748825⟩



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