The impact of faulting complexity and type on earthquake rupture dynamics

The statistical properties of seismicity are known to be affected by several factors such as the rheological parameters of rocks. We analysed the earthquake double-couple as a function of the faulting type. Here we show that it impacts the moment tensors of earthquakes: thrust-faulting events are characterized by higher double-couple components with respect to strike-slip- and normal-faulting earthquakes. Our results are coherent with the stress dependence of the scaling exponent of the Gutenberg-Richter law, which is anticorrelated to the double-couple. We suggest that the structural and tectonic control of seismicity may have its origin in the complexity of the seismogenic source marked by the width of the cataclastic damage zone and by the slip of different fault planes during the same seismic event; the sharper and concentrated the slip as along faults, the higher the double-couple. This phenomenon may introduce bias in magnitude estimation, with possible impact on seismic forecasting.

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