Abstract

We use a database of more than 80 finite-source rupture models for more than 50 earthquakes (Mw 4.1–8.1) with different faulting styles occurring in both tectonic and subduction environments to analyze the location of the hypocenter within the fault and to consider the correlation between hypocenter location and regions of large slip. Rupture in strike-slip and crustal dip-slip earthquakes tends to nucleate in the deeper sections of the fault; subduction earthquakes do not show this tendency. Ratios of the hypocentral slip to either the average or the maximum slip show that rupture can nucleate at locations with any level of relative displacement. Rupture nucleates in regions of very large slip (D ≥ 2/3 Dmax) in only 16% of the events, in regions of large slip (1/3 Dmax < D < 2/3 Dmax) in 35% of the events, and in regions of low slip (D ≤ 1/3 Dmax) in 48% of the events. These percentages significantly exceed the percentages of fault area with very large (∼7%) and large (∼28%) slip. Ruptures that nucleate in regions of low slip, however, tend to nucleate close to regions of large slip and encounter a zone of very large slip within half the total rupture length. Applying several statistical tests we conclude that hypocenters are not randomly located on a fault but are located either within or close to regions of large slip.

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