Evaluating models of Coulomb stress transfer: Is variable fault geometry important?

Zoe K. Mildon, Shinji Toda, Joanna P. Faure Walker, Gerald P. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


To determine the importance of receiver fault geometry in Coulomb stress calculations a new methodology is presented to model faults with variable geometry. Although most models use planar faults, it is known that these are inaccurate representations of faults observed in the field. The central Italian Apennines are chosen as a straightforward tectonic system with well-exposed normal faults to investigate the effect of variable geometry. It is shown that the static Coulomb stress transfer is most sensitive to changes in strike of the receiver faults, rather than changes in dip and rake. Therefore, a novel methodology to generate strike-variable faults composed of discrete rectangular patches is developed. Using the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake (Mw = 6.3) the calculated stress transferred to planar versus variable faults is assessed. The stress transferred to variable faults is sufficiently different when compared to planar cases to merit other earthquake sequences being reassessed with available fault geometry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12,407-12,414
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Dec 28


  • Coulomb stress transfer
  • normal faults
  • variable fault geometry


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