Fault Slip modes on subduction plate boundaries: the role of inherited structures

Theme: Solid Earth Dynamics

Main Supervisor:

Paola Vannucchi

Earth Sciences, RHUL

Project Description:

The discovery of slow slip events and non-volcanic tremor at subduction margins has led to an explosion of theories about fault rheology and slip behaviour along megathrusts. As a general trend, slip is aseismic at shallow depth, while earthquakes, slow slip events, and tremor tend to be generated deeper, with the onset of microseismicity nucleation at ~4 km depth.

Slip along the megathrust tends to evolve in sediment/rock with inherited fabric that was formed by previous slip events and/or during deformation occurring outside of plate boundary fault.

The goal of this project is to characterize the evolution of slip modes along the subduction plate boundary interface. We will combine lab experiments with field studies of paleoseismic structures and their relationships to inherited fabric and fluid patterns in selected areas (Northern Apennines, Corsica, Costa Rica). Experimental work will test the weakening mechanisms of both fault zone material and host rock.

Policy Impact of Research:

Subduction zones are significant seismic hazards. The mechanisms of fault weakening in clay-rich fault zone are still not understood, despite being the common case.


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