Nucleationand critical phenomena, damage, and characteristic earthquakes

D. L. Turcotte, J. B. Rundle, M. Yoder, S. G. Abaimov, W. Klein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


We consider the sequence of earthquakes on the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas fault to be representative “characteristic” earthquakes.We consider the recurrence interval statistics of these earthquakes and the frequency-magnitude statistics of smaller earthquakes prior to the 2004 Parkfield earthquake.We give results for a “stiff” slider-block model and show strong similarities between the model and the Parkfield results. In both cases a power-lawdistribution of smaller events were observed. In both cases theWeibull fit to the distribution of interval timeswas quite good with similar values of the power-lawexponent.We have also drawn an analogy between an earthquake rupture and a first-order phase change (nucleation). We consider this analogy both with and without damage. With damage the rupture is equivalent to an equilibrium phase change, without damage the rupture is equivalent to a spinodal phase change.We argue that the absence of a systematic precursory acceleration of seismicity prior to earthquakes is evidence that precursory damage does nor occur. Thus fault rupture can be associated with a spinodal phase change.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcoustic Emission and Critical Phenomena
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Structural Mechanics to Geophysics
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780203892220
ISBN (Print)9781439879511
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


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