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Authors: Doglioni, C.* 
Barba, S.* 
Carminati, E.* 
Riguzzi, F.* 
Title: Role of the brittle–ductile transition on fault activation
Issue Date: 2011
Series/Report no.: 3-4/184(2011)
DOI: 10.1016/j.pepi.2010.11.005
Keywords: faul activation
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.07. Tectonophysics::04.07.02. Geodynamics 
Abstract: We model a fault cross-cutting the brittle upper crust and the ductile lower crust. In the brittle layer the fault is assumed to have stick–slip behaviour, whereas the lower ductile crust is inferred to deform in a steady-state shear. Therefore, the brittle–ductile transition (BDT) separates two layers with different strain rates and structural styles. This contrasting behaviour determines a stress gradient at the BDT that is eventually dissipated during the earthquake. During the interseismic period, along a normal fault it should form a dilated hinge at and above the BDT. Conversely, an over-compressed volume should rather develop above a thrust plane at the BDT. On a normal fault the earthquake is associated with the coseismic closure of the dilated fractures generated in the stretched hangingwall during the interseismic period. In addition to the shear stress overcoming the friction of the fault, the brittle fault moves when the weight of the hangingwall exceeds the strength of the dilated band above the BDT. On a thrust fault, the seismic event is instead associated with the sudden dilation of the previously over-compressed volume in the hangingwall above the BDT, a mechanism requiring much more energy because it acts against gravity. In both cases, the deeper the BDT, the larger the involved volume, and the bigger the related magnitude. We tested two scenarios with two examples from L’Aquila 2009 (Italy) and Chi-Chi 1999 (Taiwan) events. GPS data, energy dissipation and strain rate analysis support these contrasting evolutions. Our model also predicts, consistently with data, that the interseismic strain rate is lower along the fault segment more prone to seismic activation.
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