What fault properties control earthquake rupture in the shallow portion of subduction zones?

  • Supervisors: Prof Dan Faulkner, University of Liverpool
    Dr. Ben Edwards, University of Liverpool

  • External Supervisors:

  • Contact:

    Prof. Dan Faulkner, University of Liverpool, faulkner@liv.ac.uk

  • CASE Partner:

Application deadline: 10 January 2020


Subduction earthquakes are the largest on earth. They not only pose a serious seismic hazard risk but also can produce devastating tsunamis if a rupture propagates to the sea floor. Recently, slow slip events have been recognised in the shallow part of subduction zones, where the equivalent energy of a large earthquake is released over hours and days. The properties of the sediments within accretionary prisms must control the style of slip within accretionary prisms and determine whether or not slip will produce a ‘silent’ earthquake or a ‘regular’ devastating earthquake lasting minutes that may trigger an associated tsunami.

Project Summary:

This project will investigate:

  1. The field character of faulting within the Shimanto Complex in southern Japan to understand both the material involved in deformation and structures present. The structure of the fault zone may provide clues on the type of slip that occurred within this ancient accretionary complex.
  2. The properties of accretionary prism materials including the strength, frictional resistance, and permeability. The combination of these properties, tested under simulated in situ stress conditions, will allow predictions to be made of the likely resultant seismic/slip behaviour.


Faulkner, D. R., T. M. Mitchell, J. Behnsen, T. Hirose, and T. Shimamoto (2011), Stuck in the mud? Earthquake nucleation and propagation through accretionary forearcs, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L18303 

Fulton et al. 2013. Low Coseismic Friction on the Tohoku-Oki Fault Determined from Temperature Measurements. Science, Vol. 342 no. 6163 pp. 1214-1217. 

Wei, S. J., R.W. Graves, J.P. Avouac and J.L. Jiang, Sources of shaking and flooding during the Tohoku-Oki earthquake: A mixture of rupture styles, Earth and Planetary Science Letters. , Vol 333-334, pp. 91-100, 2012. 

Ujiie et al. 2013. Low Coseismic Shear Stress on the Tohoku-Oki Megathrust Determined from Laboratory Experiments. Science Vol. 342 no. 6163 pp. 1211-1214.

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