Slip reactivation model for the 2011 Mw9 Tohoku earthquake: Dynamic rupture, sea floor displacements and tsunami simulations.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Percy Galvez1, Luis Angel Dalguer2, Kaveh Rahnema3 and Michael Bader3, (1)ETH Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland, (2)swissnuclear, Olten, Switzerland, (3)Technische Universität München (TUM), Munich, Germany
The 2011 Mw9 Tohoku earthquake has been recorded with a vast GPS and seismic network given unprecedented chance to seismologists to unveil complex rupture processes in a mega-thrust event. In fact more than one thousand near field strong-motion stations across Japan (K-Net and Kik-Net) revealed complex ground motion patterns attributed to the source effects, allowing to capture detailed information of the rupture process.

The seismic stations surrounding the Miyagi regions (MYGH013) show two clear distinct waveforms separated by 40 seconds. This observation is consistent with the kinematic source model obtained from the inversion of strong motion data performed by Lee’s et al (2011). In this model two rupture fronts separated by 40 seconds emanate close to the hypocenter and propagate towards the trench. This feature is clearly observed by stacking the slip-rate snapshots on fault points aligned in the EW direction passing through the hypocenter (Gabriel et al, 2012), suggesting slip reactivation during the main event. A repeating slip on large earthquakes may occur due to frictional melting and thermal fluid pressurization effects. Kanamori & Heaton (2002) argued that during faulting of large earthquakes the temperature rises high enough creating melting and further reduction of friction coefficient.

We created a 3D dynamic rupture model to reproduce this slip reactivation pattern using SPECFEM3D (Galvez et al, 2014) based on a slip-weakening friction with sudden two sequential stress drops . Our model starts like a M7-8 earthquake breaking dimly the trench, then after 40 seconds a second rupture emerges close to the trench producing additional slip capable to fully break the trench and transforming the earthquake into a megathrust event. The resulting sea floor displacements are in agreement with 1Hz GPS displacements (GEONET).

The seismograms agree roughly with seismic records along the coast of Japan.The simulated sea floor displacement reaches 8-10 meters of up-lift close to the trench, which may be the cause of such a devastating tsunami followed by the Tohoku earthquake. To investigate the impact of such a huge up-lift, we ran tsunami simulations with the slip reactivation model using sam(oa)2 (O. Meister et al., 2012), a state-of-the-art Finite-Volume framework to simulate the resulting tsunami waves.