Abstract

Coulomb stress change is the change in resultant force of shear stress and friction imposed on a receiver fault plane. The resulting stress change is often computed using the Coulomb 3.4 and the postseismic Green’s functions and postseismic components (PSGRN‐PSCMP) programs. Notwithstanding both preferences, both have incomplete optimally oriented failure planes (OOPs) and are inconvenient to resolve Coulomb stress changes on various fault planes placed in varying depths. Here, we present an alternative program termed AutoCoulomb. It leverages the shell command‐line tool to automatically batch‐process Coulomb stress changes on all sorts of receiver fault planes. We first validate the program. We then apply it to the 2020 Mw 7.8 Simeonof Island, Alaska, earthquake, as a case study. Our results show that Coulomb stress changes resolved on fixed receiver faults, using the three programs, are in line with each other. So are those resolved on 3D OOPs using the PSGRN–PSCMP and the AutoCoulomb programs. Nevertheless, Coulomb stress changes on 2D OOPs, generated by the AutoCoulomb program, always outweigh those done by the Coulomb 3.4 program, indicating that 2D OOPs constrained by the latter are not the most optimal. Some nonoptimal 2D OOPs result in the reversal of the signs of Coulomb stress changes, posing a risk of misleading stress shadows with negative Coulomb stress changes. For the case study, the 28 July 2020 Mw 6.1 aftershock received a positive coseismic Coulomb stress change of 3.5 bars. In contrast, the compounded coseismic Coulomb stress changes at the hypocenters of the 1946 Mw 8.2, the 1948 Mw 7.2, and the 2020 Mw 7.8 earthquakes are within a range from −1.1 to 0.1 bar, suggesting that coseismic Coulomb stress changes promoted by preceding mainshocks alone are not responsible for these mainshocks. Other factors, such as postseismic viscoelastic relaxation, afterslip, and slow slip, may contribute to promoting their occurrence.

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