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Intrinsic properties of a Burridge-Knopoff model of an earthquake fault

Carlson, Jean M.; Langer, James S.; Shaw, Bruce E.; Tang, Chao

We present a detailed numerical study of certain fundamental aspects of a one-dimensional homogeneous, deterministic Burridge-Knopoff model. The model is described by a massive wave equation, in which the key nonlinearity is associated with the stick-slip velocity-weakening friction force at the interface between tectonic plates. In this paper, we present results for the statistical distribution of slipping events in the limit of a very long fault and infinitesimally slow driving rates. Typically, we find that the magnitude distribution of smaller events is consistent with the Gutenberg-Richter law, while the larger events occur in excess of this distribution. The crossover from smaller to larger events is identified with a correlation length describing the transition from localized to delocalized events. We also find that there is a sharp upper cutoff describing the maximum large event. We identify how the correlation length and this upper cutoff scale with the parameters in the model. We find that both are independent of system size, while both do depend on the spatial discretization. In addition to the magnitude distribution, we present a series of measurements of other seismologically relevant quantities, including the event duration, the size of the rupture zone, and the energy release, and discuss the relationship between our measurements and the corresponding empirical laws in seismology.


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Physical Review A

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