Ultralow frictional healing explains recurring slow slip events

Srisharan Shreedharan, Demian Saffer, Laura M. Wallace, Charles Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Plate motion on shallow subduction megathrusts is accommodated by a spectrum of tectonic slip modes. However, the frictional properties and conditions that sustain these diverse slip behaviors remain enigmatic. Frictional healing is one such property, which describes the degree of fault restrengthening between earthquakes. We show that the frictional healing rate of materials entrained along the megathrust at the northern Hikurangi margin, which hosts well-characterized recurring shallow slow slip events (SSEs), is nearly zero (<0.0001 per decade). These low healing rates provide a mechanism for the low stress drops (<50 kilopascals) and short recurrence times (1 to 2 years) characteristic of shallow SSEs at Hikurangi and other subduction margins. We suggest that near-zero frictional healing rates, associated with weak phyllosilicates that are common in subduction zones, may promote frequent, small-stress-drop, slow ruptures near the trench.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-717
Number of pages6
Issue number6633
StatePublished - Feb 17 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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