Universal Quake Statistics: From Compressed Nanocrystals to Earthquakes

Jonathan T. Uhl, Shivesh Pathak, Danijel Schorlemmer, Xin Liu, Ryan Swindeman, Braden A W Brinkman, Michael LeBlanc, Georgios Tsekenis, Nir Friedman, Robert Behringer, Dmitry Denisov, Peter Schall, Xiaojun Gu, Wendelin J. Wright, Todd Hufnagel, Andrew Jennings, Julia R. Greer, P. K. Liaw, Thorsten Becker, Georg DresenKarin A. Dahmen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Slowly-compressed single crystals, bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), rocks, granular materials, and the earth all deform via intermittent slips or "quakes". We find that although these systems span 12 decades in length scale, they all show the same scaling behavior for their slip size distributions and other statistical properties. Remarkably, the size distributions follow the same power law multiplied with the same exponential cutoff. The cutoff grows with applied force for materials spanning length scales from nanometers to kilometers. The tuneability of the cutoff with stress reflects "tuned critical" behavior, rather than self-organized criticality (SOC), which would imply stress-independence. A simple mean field model for avalanches of slipping weak spots explains the agreement across scales. It predicts the observed slip-size distributions and the observed stress-dependent cutoff function. The results enable extrapolations from one scale to another, and from one force to another, across different materials and structures, from nanocrystals to earthquakes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number16493
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Nov 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Universal Quake Statistics: From Compressed Nanocrystals to Earthquakes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this