Fault zone damage, nonlinear site response, and dynamic triggering associated with seismic waves
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My dissertation focuses primarily on the following three aspects associated with passing seismic waves in the field of earthquake seismology: temporal changes of fault zone properties, nonlinear site response, and dynamic triggering. Quantifying the temporal changes of material properties within and around active fault zones (FZ) is important for better understanding of rock rheology and estimating the strong ground motion that can be generated by large earthquakes. As high-amplitude seismic waves propagate through damaged FZ rocks and/or shallow surface layers, they may produce additional damage leading to nonlinear wave propagation effects and temporal changes of material properties (e.g., seismic velocity, attenuation). Previous studies have found several types of temporal changes in material properties with time scales of tens of seconds to several years. Here I systematically analyze temporal changes of fault zone (FZ) site response along the Karadere-Düzce branch of the North Anatolian fault that ruptured during the 1999 İzmit and Düzce earthquake sequences. The coseismic changes are on the order of 20-40%, and are followed by a logarithmic recovery over an apparent time scale of ~1 day. These results provide a bridge between the large-amplitude near-instantaneous changes and the lower-amplitude longer-duration variations observed in previous studies. The temporal changes measured from this high-resolution spectral ratio analysis also provide a refinement for the beginning of the longer more gradual process typically observed by analyzing repeating earthquakes. An improved knowledge on nonlinear site response is critical for better understanding strong ground motions and predicting shaking induced damages. I use the same sliding-window spectral ratio technique to analyze temporal changes in site response associated with the strong ground motion of the Mw6.6 2004 Mid-Niigata earthquake sequence recorded by the borehole stations in Japanese Digital Strong-Motion Seismograph Network (KiK-Net). The coseismic peak frequency drop, peak spectral ratio drop, and the postseismic recovery time roughly scale with the input ground motions when the peak ground velocity (PGV) is larger than ~5 cm/s, or the peak ground acceleration (PGA) is larger than ~100 Gal. The results suggest that at a given site the input ground motion plays an important role in controlling both the coseismic change and postseismic recovery in site response. In a follow-up study, I apply the same sliding-window spectral ratio technique to surface and borehole strong motion records at 6 KiK-Net sites, and stack results associated with different earthquakes that produce similar PGAs. In some cases I observe a weak coseismic drop in the peak frequency when the PGA is as small as ~20-30 Gal, and near instantaneous recovery after the passage of the direct S waves. The percentage of drop in the peak frequency starts to increase with increasing PGA values. A coseismic drop in the peak spectral ratio is also observed at 2 sites. When the PGA is larger than ~60 Gal to more than 100 Gal, considerably stronger coseismic drops of the peak frequencies are observed, followed by a logarithmic recovery with time. The observed weak reductions of peak frequencies with near instantaneous recovery likely reflect nonlinear response with essentially fixed level of damage, while the larger drops followed by logarithmic recovery reflect the generation (and then recovery) of additional rock damage. The results indicate clearly that nonlinear site response may occur during medium-size earthquakes, and that the PGA threshold for in situ nonlinear site response is lower than the previously thought value of ~100-200 Gal. The recent Mw9.0 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake and its aftershocks generated widespread strong shakings as large as ~3000 Gal along the east coast of Japan. I systematically analyze temporal changes of material properties and nonlinear site response in the shallow crust associated with the Tohoku main shock, using seismic data recorded by the Japanese Strong Motion Network KIK-Net. I compute the spectral ratios of windowed records from a pair of surface and borehole stations, and then use the sliding-window spectral ratios to track the temporal changes in the site response of various sites at different levels of PGA The preliminary results show clear drop of resonant frequency of up to 70% during the Tohoku main shock at 6 sites with PGA from 600 to 1300 Gal. In the site MYGH04 where two distinct groups of strong ground motions were recorded, the resonant frequency briefly recovers in between, and then followed by an apparent logarithmic recovery. I investigate the percentage drop of peak frequency and peak spectral ratio during the Tohoku main shock at different PGA levels, and find that at most sites they are correlated. The third part of my thesis mostly focuses on how seismic waves trigger additional earthquakes at long-range distance, also known as dynamic triggering. Previous studies have shown that dynamic triggering in intraplate regions is typically not as common as at plate-boundary regions. Here I perform a comprehensive analysis of dynamic triggering around the Babaoshan and Huangzhuang-Gaoliying faults southwest of Beijing, China. The triggered earthquakes are identified as impulsive seismic arrivals with clear P- and S-waves in 5 Hz high-pass-filtered three-component velocity seismograms during the passage of large amplitude body and surface waves of large teleseismic earthquakes. I find that this region was repeatedly triggered by at least four earthquakes in East Asia, including the 2001 Mw7.8 Kunlun, 2003 Mw8.3 Tokachi-oki, 2004 Mw9.2 Sumatra, and 2008 Mw7.9 Wenchuan earthquakes. In most instances, the microearthquakes coincide with the first few cycles of the Love waves, and more are triggered during the large-amplitude Rayleigh waves. Such an instantaneous triggering by both the Love and Rayleigh waves is similar to recent observations of remotely triggered 'non-volcanic' tremor along major plate-boundary faults, and can be explained by a simple Coulomb failure criterion. Five earthquakes triggered by the Kunlun and Tokachi-oki earthquakes were recorded by multiple stations and could be located. These events occurred at shallow depth (< 5 km) above the background seismicity near the boundary between NW-striking Babaoshan and Huangzhuang-Gaoliying faults and the Fangshan Pluton. These results suggest that triggered earthquakes in this region likely occur near the transition between the velocity strengthening and weakening zones in the top few kms of the crust, and are likely driven by relatively large dynamic stresses on the order of few tens of KPa.