Global search of triggered non-volcanic tremor
Chao, Kevin Tzu-Kai
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Deep non-volcanic tremor is a newly discovered seismic phenomenon with low amplitude, long duration, and no clear P- and S-waves as compared with regular earthquake. Tremor has been observed at many major plate-boundary faults, providing new information about fault slip behaviors below the seismogenic zone. While tremor mostly occurs spontaneously (ambient tremor) or during episodic slow- slip events (SSEs), sometimes tremor can also be triggered during teleseismic waves of distance earthquakes, which is known as "triggered tremor". The primary focus of my Ph.D. work is to understand the physical mechanisms and necessary conditions of triggered tremor by systematic investigations in different tectonic regions. These include Taiwan, California, southwest Japan, Alaska and the Aleutian Arc, Cascadia, and New Zealand. In the first chapter of my dissertation, I conduct a systematic survey of triggered tremor beneath the Central Range (CR) in Taiwan for 45 teleseismic earthquakes from 1998 to 2009 with Mw ≥ 7.5. Triggered tremors are visually identified as bursts of high-frequency (2-8 Hz), non-impulsive, and long-duration seismic energy that are coherent among many seismic stations and modulated by the teleseismic surface waves. A total of 9 teleseismic earthquakes has triggered clear tremor in Taiwan. The peak ground velocity (PGV) of teleseismic surface waves is the most important factor in determining tremor triggering potential, with an apparent threshold of ~0.1 cm/s, or 7-8 kPa. However, such threshold is partially controlled by the background noise level, preventing triggered tremor with weaker amplitude from being observed. In addition, I find a positive correlation between the PGV and the triggered tremor amplitude, which is consistent with the prediction of the 'clock-advance' model. This suggests that triggered tremor can be considered as a sped-up occurrence of ambient tremor under fast loading from the passing surface waves. Finally, the incident angles of surface waves also play an important rule in controlling the tremor triggering potential. The next chapter focuses on a systematic comparison of triggered tremor around the Calaveras Fault (CF) in northern California (NC), the Parkfield-Cholame section of the San Andreas Fault (SAF) in central California (CC), and the San Jacinto Fault (SJF) in southern California (SC). Out of 42 large (Mw ≥7.5) earthquakes between 2001 and 2010, only the 2002 Mw 7.9 Denali fault earthquake triggered clear tremor in NC and SC. In comparison, abundant triggered and ambient tremor has been observed in CC. Further analysis reveal that the lack of triggered tremor observations in SC and NC is not simply a consequence of their different background noise levels as compared to CC, but rather reflects different background tremor rates in these regions. In the final chapter, I systematically search for triggered tremor following the 2011 Mw9.0 Tohoku-Oki earthquake in the regions where ambient or triggered tremor has been found before. The main purpose is to check whether triggered tremor is observed in regions when certain conditions (e.g., surface wave amplitudes) are met. Triggered tremor is observed in southwest Japan, Taiwan, the Aleutian Arc, south-central Alaska, northern Vancouver Island, the Parkfield-Cholame section of the SAF in CC and the SJF in SC, and the North Island of New Zealand. Such a widespread triggering of tremor is not too surprising because of the large amplitude surface waves (minimum peak value of ~0.1 cm/s) and the associated dynamic stresses (at least ~7-8 kPa), which is one of the most important factors in controlling the triggering threshold. The triggered tremor in different region is located close to or nearby the ambient tremor active area. In addition, the amplitudes of triggered tremor have positive correlations with the amplitudes of teleseismic surface waves among many regions. Moreover, both Love and Rayleigh waves participate in triggering tremor in different regions, and their triggering potential is somewhat controlled by the incident angles. In summary, systematically surveys of triggered tremor in different tectonic regions reveal that triggered tremor shares similar physical mechanism (shear failure on the fault interface) as ambient tremor but with different loading conditions. The amplitude of the teleseismic surface wave is one of the most important factors in controlling the tremor triggering threshold. In addition, the frequency contents and incident angles of the triggering waves, and local fault geometry and ambient conditions also play certain roles in determining the triggering potential. On the other hand, the background noise level and seismic network coverage and station quality also could affect the apparent triggering threshold. Because triggered tremor occurs almost instantaneously during the teleseismic surface waves, and the tremor amplitude is somewhat controlled by the amplitude of the triggering waves, the occurrence time and the size of the triggered tremor could be somewhat predictable, so long as we know the amplitude and period of surface waves and associated time-varying dynamic stresses. Hence, further analysis of triggered tremor may provide important new clues on the nucleation and predictability of seismic events.