Relating triggering processes in lab experiments with earthquakes

Jordi Baro Urbea, Jörn Davidsen, Grzegorz Kwiatek, Elli-Maria Christodoulos Charalampidou, Thomas Goebel, Sergei A. Stanchits, Eduard Vives, Georg H. Dresen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Statistical relations such as Gutenberg-Richter's, Omori-Utsu's and the productivity of aftershocks were first observed in seismology, but are also common to other physical phenomena exhibiting avalanche dynamics such as solar flares, rock fracture, structural phase transitions and even stock market transactions. All these examples exhibit spatio-temporal correlations that can be explained as triggering processes: Instead of being activated as a response to external driving or fluctuations, some events are consequence of previous activity. Although different plausible explanations have been suggested in each system, the ubiquity of such statistical laws remains unknown. However, the case of rock fracture may exhibit a physical connection with seismology. It has been suggested that some features of seismology have a microscopic origin and are reproducible over a vast range of scales. This hypothesis has motivated mechanical experiments to generate artificial catalogues of earthquakes at a laboratory scale -so called labquakes- and under controlled conditions. Microscopic fractures in lab tests release elastic waves that are recorded as ultrasonic (kHz-MHz) acoustic emission (AE) events by means of piezoelectric transducers.

Here, we analyse the statistics of labquakes recorded during the failure of small samples of natural rocks and artificial porous materials under different controlled compression regimes. Temporal and spatio-temporal correlations are identified in certain cases. Specifically, we distinguish between the background and triggered events, revealing some differences in the statistical properties. We fit the data to statistical models of seismicity. As a particular case, we explore the branching process approach simplified in the Epidemic Type Aftershock Sequence (ETAS) model. We evaluate the empirical spatio-temporal kernel of the model and investigate the physical origins of triggering. Our analysis of the focal mechanisms implies that the occurrence of the empirical laws extends well beyond purely frictional sliding events, in contrast to what is often assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016
EventAGU Fall Meeting - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 12 Dec 201616 Dec 2016


ConferenceAGU Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco
Internet address


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