On the effects of thermally weakened ductile shear zones on postseismic deformation

TitleOn the effects of thermally weakened ductile shear zones on postseismic deformation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsTakeuchi C.S, Fialko Y
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth
Date Published2013/12
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number2169-9313
Accession NumberWOS:000329851800018
Keywords1999 hector mine; california; coseismic deformation; ductile shear; dynamic recrystallization; flow; landers earthquake; lithosphere; mantle; mojave-desert; postseismic deformation; shear zones; slip

We present three-dimensional (3-D) numerical models of postseismic deformation following repeated earthquakes on a vertical strike-slip fault. Our models use linear Maxwell, Burgers, and temperature-dependent power law rheology for the lower crust and upper mantle. We consider effects of viscous shear zones that result from thermomechanical coupling and investigate potential kinematic similarities between viscoelastic models incorporating shear zones and elastic models incorporating rate-strengthening friction on a deep aseismic fault root. We find that the thermally activated shear zones have little effect on postseismic relaxation. In particular, the presence of shear zones does not change the polarity of vertical displacements in cases of rheologies that are able to generate robust postseismic transients. Stronger rheologies can give rise to an opposite polarity of vertical displacements, but the amplitude of the predicted transient deformation is generally negligible. We conclude that additional (to thermomechanical coupling) mechanisms of strain localization are required for a viscoelastic model to produce a vertical deformation pattern similar to that due to afterslip on a deep extension of a fault. We also investigate the discriminating power of models incorporating Burgers and power law rheology. These rheologies were proposed to explain postseismic transients following large (M7) earthquakes in the Mojave desert, Eastern California. Numerical simulations indicate that it may be difficult to distinguish between these rheologies even with high-quality geodetic observations for observation periods less than a decade. Longer observations, however, may potentially allow discrimination between the competing models, as illustrated by the model comparisons with available GPS and interferometric synthetic aperture radar data.

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