Seismological observations of short slip duration on faults (short rise time on seismograms) during earthquakes are not consistent with conventional crack models of dynamic rupture and fault slip. In these models, the leading edge of rupture stops only when a strong region is encountered, and slip at an interior point ceases only when waves from the stopped edge of slip propagate back to that point. In contrast, some seismological evidence suggests that the duration of slip is too short for waves to propagate from the nearest edge of the ruptured surface, perhaps even if the distance used is an asperity size instead of the entire rupture dimension. What controls slip duration, if not dimensions of the fault or of asperities?
In this study, dynamic earthquake rupture and slip are represented by a propagating shear crack. For all propagating shear cracks, slip velocity is highest near the rupture front, and at a small distance behind the rupture front, the slip velocity decreases. As pointed out by Heaton (1990), if the crack obeys a negative slip-rate-dependent strength relation, the lower slip velocity behind the rupture front will lead to strengthening that further reduces the velocity, and under certain circumstances, healing of slip can occur. The boundary element method of Hamano (1974) is used in a program adapted from Andrews (1985) for numerical simulations of mode II rupture with two different velocity-dependent strength functions. For the first function, after a slip-weakening displacement, the crack follows an exponential velocity-weakening relation. The characteristic velocity V0 of the exponential determines the magnitude of the velocity-dependence at dynamic velocities. The velocity-dependence at high velocity is essentially zero when V0 is small and the resulting slip velocity distribution is similar to slip weakening. If V0 is larger, rupture propagation initially resembles slip-weakening, but spontaneous healing occurs behind the rupture front. The rise time and rupture propagation velocity depend on the choice of constitutive parameters. The second strength function is a natural log velocity-dependent form similar to constitutive laws that fit experimental rock friction data at lower velocities. Slip pulses also arise with this function. For a reasonable choice of constitutive parameters, slip pulses with this function do not propagate at speeds greater than the Raleighwave velocity. The calculated slip pulses are similar in many aspects to seismic observations of short rise time. In all cases of self-healing slip pulses, the residual stress increases with distance behind the trailing edge of the pulse so that the final stress drop is much less than the dynamic stress drop, in agreement with the model of Brune (1976) and some recent seismological observations of rupture.