Abstract

Numerical simulations of sequences of earthquakes and aseismic slip (SEAS) have made great progress over past decades to address important questions in earthquake physics. However, significant challenges in SEAS modeling remain in resolving multiscale interactions between earthquake nucleation, dynamic rupture, and aseismic slip, and understanding physical factors controlling observables such as seismicity and ground deformation. The increasing complexity of SEAS modeling calls for extensive efforts to verify codes and advance these simulations with rigor, reproducibility, and broadened impact. In 2018, we initiated a community code‐verification exercise for SEAS simulations, supported by the Southern California Earthquake Center. Here, we report the findings from our first two benchmark problems (BP1 and BP2), designed to verify different computational methods in solving a mathematically well‐defined, basic faulting problem. We consider a 2D antiplane problem, with a 1D planar vertical strike‐slip fault obeying rate‐and‐state friction, embedded in a 2D homogeneous, linear elastic half‐space. Sequences of quasi‐dynamic earthquakes with periodic occurrences (BP1) or bimodal sizes (BP2) and their interactions with aseismic slip are simulated. The comparison of results from 11 groups using different numerical methods show excellent agreements in long‐term and coseismic fault behavior. In BP1, we found that truncated domain boundaries influence interseismic stressing, earthquake recurrence, and coseismic rupture, and that model agreement is only achieved with sufficiently large domain sizes. In BP2, we found that complexity of fault behavior depends on how well physical length scales related to spontaneous nucleation and rupture propagation are resolved. Poor numerical resolution can result in artificial complexity, impacting simulation results that are of potential interest for characterizing seismic hazard such as earthquake size distributions, moment release, and recurrence times. These results inform the development of more advanced SEAS models, contributing to our further understanding of earthquake system dynamics.

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