Modeling Sequences of Earthquakes and Aseismic Slip (SEAS) in Elasto-Plastic Fault Zones With a Hybrid Finite Element Spectral Boundary Integral Scheme

Mohamed Abdelmeguid, Ahmed Elbanna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a coupled finite element spectral boundary integral framework for modeling sequences of earthquakes and aseismic slip on a 2-D planar rate-and-state fault with off-fault visco-plastic response in the plane strain approximation. The model resolves both slow aseismic deformation and inertia effects during rapid slip. As an application, we perform two sets of simulations with different choices of cohesion to explore the co-evolution of fault slip, bulk plasticity and local stress fields. The first set implements a relatively large value of the cohesion parameter, which results in limiting inelastic strain accumulation to dynamic rupture phases. The second set implements a smaller cohesion, allowing for plastic strain to accumulate in both seismic and aseismic phases. For the first model, our results indicate that the extent and distribution of plastic strain depend on the angle of maximum compressive principal stress. At larger angles, inelastic strain accumulates on the extensional side of a dynamically propagating rupture. At smaller angles, the extent of plasticity is limited to the compressional side of the domain. At smaller cohesion values, off-fault plasticity may occur during aseismic slip, which alters the nucleation characteristics and earthquake sequence pattern. Furthermore, our results at lower cohesion values indicate that plastic strain accumulation may occur in both the extensional and compressional sides of the off-fault bulk even at higher angles of maximum compression. This produces damage patterns that deviate from the traditional off-fault fan-like distribution observed in dynamic rupture simulations and emphasizes the significance of long-term deformation in interpreting observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022JB024548
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • fault zone damage
  • off-fault plasticity
  • sequences of seismic and aseismic slip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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