Seismic moment tensor and b value variations over successive seismic cycles in laboratory stick-slip experiments


The formation of fault damage due to slip under high normal stresses can rarely be monitored under in situ conditions. To advance our understanding of microfracture processes, we investigated stick-slip events on Westerly granite samples containing the following: (1) a planar saw cut fault and (2) a fault developed from a fresh fracture surface. We examined temporal changes of seismic moment tensors and b values of acoustic emission (AE) events. During experiment on the saw cut surface, small AEs exhibiting non-double-couple components were observed continuously and strong AEs displaying double-couple components were visible only when approaching the slip onsets. Sliding on naturally fractured surfaces showed, in addition to double-couple components, significant volumetric contributions, especially during the interslip periods and immediately after stick-slip events indicating substantial shear-enhanced compaction within a relatively broad damage zone. The obtained results shed light on how differences in fault structure control the kinematics of microseismicity during different periods of the seismic cycle.

Publication Title

Geophysical Research Letters