The Spatiotemporal Evolution of Granular Microslip Precursors to Laboratory Earthquakes

Daniel T. Trugman, Ian W. McBrearty, David C. Bolton, Robert A. Guyer, Chris Marone, Paul A. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Laboratory earthquake experiments provide important observational constraints for our understanding of earthquake physics. Here we leverage continuous waveform data from a network of piezoceramic sensors to study the spatial and temporal evolution of microslip activity during a shear experiment with synthetic fault gouge. We combine machine learning techniques with ray theoretical seismology to detect, associate, and locate tens of thousands of microslip events within the gouge layer. Microslip activity is concentrated near the center of the system but is highly variable in space and time. While microslip activity rate increases as failure approaches, the spatiotemporal evolution can differ substantially between stick-slip cycles. These results illustrate that even within a single, well-constrained laboratory experiment, the dynamics of earthquake nucleation can be highly complex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL088404
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 28 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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