Aseismic transient slip on the Gofar transform fault, East Pacific Rise

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Liu, Yajing
McGuire, Jeffrey J.
Behn, Mark D.
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Oceanic transform faults
Earthquake rupture segmentation
Aseismic transients
Seismic swarms
Oceanic transform faults display a unique combination of seismic and aseismic slip behavior, including a large globally averaged seismic deficit, and the local occurrence of repeating magnitude (M) ∼6 earthquakes with abundant foreshocks and seismic swarms, as on the Gofar transform of the East Pacific Rise and the Blanco Ridge in the northeast Pacific Ocean. However, the underlying mechanisms that govern the partitioning between seismic and aseismic slip and their interaction remain unclear. Here we present a numerical modeling study of earthquake sequences and aseismic transient slip on oceanic transform faults. In the model, strong dilatancy strengthening, supported by seismic imaging that indicates enhanced fluid-filled porosity and possible hydrothermal circulation down to the brittle–ductile transition, effectively stabilizes along-strike seismic rupture propagation and results in rupture barriers where aseismic transients arise episodically. The modeled slow slip migrates along the barrier zones at speeds ∼10 to 600 m/h, spatiotemporally correlated with the observed migration of seismic swarms on the Gofar transform. Our model thus suggests the possible prevalence of episodic aseismic transients in M ∼6 rupture barrier zones that host active swarms on oceanic transform faults and provides candidates for future seafloor geodesy experiments to verify the relation between aseismic fault slip, earthquake swarms, and fault zone hydromechanical properties.
Author Posting. © National Academy of Sciences, 2020. This article is posted here by permission of National Academy of Sciences for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2020): 201913625, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1913625117.
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Liu, Y., McGuire, J. J., & Behn, M. D. (2020). Aseismic transient slip on the Gofar transform fault, East Pacific Rise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 201913625.
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