Large earthquakes within seismogenic crust are generally thought to require the pre-existence of large fault structures. Such fault structures appear to evolve by the progressive growth and amalgamation of smaller faults and fractures (Cowie and Scholz 1992). In the course of their evolution some components of an evolving fault system may be inherited from previous tectonic episodes while others may be newly formed in the prevailing tectonic stress field. With increasing displacement and amalgamation of sub-structures, fault structures tend to become “smoother,” less complex, and perhaps weaker (Wesnousky 1988).

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The 2010–2011 Canterbury earthquake sequence occurred within...

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