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This study shows that the plate interface is a patchwork of areas differing in their frictional properties:
  • dark gray patches show seismic (unstable) slip
  • light gray shows aseismic (stable) slip
This patchwork determines where stress slowly builds up (i.e., where the plate interface is locked, held by the dark gray patches) in preparation for future earthquakes.
During the earthquake, seismic slip occurs in areas that were locked before the earthquake.

Following the earthquake, aseismic slip occurs on the adjacent area, where the stress suddenly increased and where frictional properties promote stable sliding.

Press release | Publication1 | Publication2

Credit: Tectonics Observatory, California Institute of Technology

Tectonics Observatory :: California Institute of Technology
Last updated: September 25, 2009 :: Contact Us