Dynamic earthquake rupture simulations on nonplanar faults embedded in 3D geometrically complex, heterogeneous elastic solids

Kenneth Duru, & Eric M. Dunham

Published January 2016, SCEC Contribution #2062

Dynamic propagation of shear ruptures on a frictional interface in an elastic solid is a useful idealization of natural earthquakes. The conditions relating discontinuities in particle velocities across fault zones and tractions acting on the fault are often expressed as nonlinear friction laws. The corresponding initial boundary value problems are both numerically and computationally challenging. In addition, seismic waves generated by earthquake ruptures must be propagated for many wavelengths away from the fault. Therefore, reliable and efficient numerical simulations require both provably stable and high order accurate numerical methods.

We present a high order accurate finite difference method for: a) enforcing nonlinear friction laws, in a consistent and provably stable manner, suitable for efficient explicit time integration; b) dynamic propagation of earthquake ruptures along nonplanar faults; c) accurate propagation of seismic waves in heterogeneous media with free surface topography. We solve the first order form of the 3D elastic wave equation on a boundary-conforming curvilinear mesh, in terms of particle velocities and stresses that are collocated in space and time, using summation-by-parts (SBP) finite difference operators in space. Boundary and interface conditions are imposed weakly using penalties. By deriving semi-discrete energy estimates analogous to the continuous energy estimates we prove numerical stability. The finite difference stencils used in this paper are sixth order accurate in the interior and third order accurate close to the boundaries. However, the method is applicable to any spatial operator with a diagonal norm satisfying the SBP property. Time stepping is performed with a 4th order accurate explicit low storage Runge-Kutta scheme, thus yielding a globally fourth order accurate method in both space and time. We have performed extensive numerical experiments using both rate-and-state and slip-weakening friction laws on nonplanar faults. We also show simulations on bandlimited self-similar fractal faults revealing the complexity of rupture dynamics on rough faults.

Duru, K., & Dunham, E. M. (2016). Dynamic earthquake rupture simulations on nonplanar faults embedded in 3D geometrically complex, heterogeneous elastic solids. Journal of Computational Physics, 305, 185-207. doi: 10.1016/j.jcp.2015.10.021.