A 667 year record of coseismic and interseismic Coulomb stress changes in central Italy reveals the role of fault interaction in controlling irregular earthquake recurrence intervals

L. N.J. Wedmore*, J. P. Faure Walker, G. P. Roberts, P. R. Sammonds, K. J.W. McCaffrey, P. A. Cowie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
263 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Current studies of fault interaction lack sufficiently long earthquake records and measurements of fault slip rates over multiple seismic cycles to fully investigate the effects of interseismic loading and coseismic stress changes on the surrounding fault network. We model elastic interactions between 97 faults from 30 earthquakes since 1349 A.D. in central Italy to investigate the relative importance of co-seismic stress changes versus interseismic stress accumulation for earthquake occurrence and fault interaction. This region has an exceptionally long, 667 year record of historical earthquakes and detailed constraints on the locations and slip rates of its active normal faults. Of 21 earthquakes since 1654, 20 events occurred on faults where combined coseismic and interseismic loading stresses were positive even though ~20% of all faults are in “stress shadows” at any one time. Furthermore, the Coulomb stress on the faults that experience earthquakes is statistically different from a random sequence of earthquakes in the region. We show how coseismic Coulomb stress changes can alter earthquake interevent times by ~103 years, and fault length controls the intensity of this effect. Static Coulomb stress changes cause greater interevent perturbations on shorter faults in areas characterized by lower strain (or slip) rates. The exceptional duration and number of earthquakes we model enable us to demonstrate the importance of combining long earthquake records with detailed knowledge of fault geometries, slip rates, and kinematics to understand the impact of stress changes in complex networks of active faults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5691-5711
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume122
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jun 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017

Keywords

  • earthquakes
  • fault interaction

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