Early and persistent supershear rupture of the 2018 Mw 7.5 Palu earthquake

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0297-z. This is version 2 of this Preprint.


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HAN BAO, Jean Paul Ampuero , Lingsen Meng, Eric Jameson Fielding , Cunren Liang, Hui Huang, Tian Feng


Supershear earthquakes with rupture velocity exceeding shear-wave speeds, previously observed in laboratory experiments and large strike-slip events, often have an initial sub-shear stage before they transition to supershear. In this study, integrated geophysical observations of the 2018 Mw 7.5 Palu, Indonesia earthquake, provide robust evidence of an early and persistent supershear rupture speed. Slowness-enhanced back-projection (SEBP) of teleseismic data provides a sharp image of the rupture process, consistently across multiple arrays. The inferred rupture path agrees with the surface rupture trace inferred from the net surface displacement field derived by sub-pixel InSAR image correlation. The SEBP results indicate a sustained rupture velocity of 4.1 km/s from the rupture initiation to the end, despite large fault bends. The persistent supershear speed is further validated by evidence of far-field Rayleigh Mach waves in regional seismograms. The short or absent supershear transition distance can be caused by high initial shear stress or short critical slip-weakening distance, and promoted by fault roughness near the hypocenter. Steady rupture propagation at a supershear speed considered to be unstable, lower than the Eshelby speed, could result from the presence of a damaged fault zone.




Earth Sciences, Geophysics and Seismology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


InSAR, earthquake, Supershear rupture, Back-projection


Published: 2018-11-09 18:28

Last Updated: 2018-11-10 16:50

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GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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