An asperity model to simulate rupture along heterogeneous fault surfaces

John M. Kemeny, Roberta M. Hagaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A model has been developed to simulate the statistical and mechanical nature of rupture on a heterogeneous strike-slip fault. The model is based on the progressive failure of circular asperities of varying sizes and strengths along a fault plane subjected to a constant far-field shear displacement rate. The basis of the model is a deformation and stress intensity factory solution for a single circular asperity under a unidirectional shear stress. The individual asperities are unified through the fault stiffness and the far-field stress and displacement. During fault deformation asperities can fail and reheal, resulting in changes in the local stresses in the asperities, stress drops, and changes in the stiffness of the fault. Depending on how the stress is redistributed following asperity failure and on the strenghts of the neighboring asperities an earthquake event can be the failure of one or more asperities. Following an earthquake event seismic source parameters such as the stress drop, energy change, and moment magnitude are calculated. Results from the model show a very realistic pattern of earthquake rupture, with reasonable source parameters, the proper magnitude-frequency behavior, and the development of characteristic earthquakes. Also the progression of b-values in the model gives some insight into the phenomenon of 'self-organized criticality.'

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-567
Number of pages19
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics PAGEOPH
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1992


  • Asperity
  • b-value
  • characteristic earthquakes
  • earthquake
  • fracture mechanics simulation
  • seismicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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