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A new model for the origin of earthquakes was born

A new model for the origin of earthquakes was born

It was published in the prestigious journal Nature A new scientific theory and modelAccording to which the geometry of fault lines may be the cause of earthquakes, and not the hitherto accepted cause associated with the friction of rocky bodies. According to the traditional idea, the tension generated during the movement of rock bodies pressing against each other causes an earthquake, but the new theory considers the way in which rock masses and fault lines are positioned in relation to each other is much more important. Factor. The research was conducted by Brown University to explain.

“Our study paints a completely different picture of why earthquakes happen,” said geophysicist Victor Tsai, one of the research leaders. “This has very important consequences in terms of where we can expect earthquakes and where not, and it can also help predict where the most destructive earthquakes could occur.”

Fault lines are the boundary lines along which individual blocks and rock plates of the Earth's solid crust meet or press against each other. For a long time, geophysicists have explained the occurrence of earthquakes by saying that at these encounters, stress builds up due to the movement of the rock bodies pressing against each other, and this suddenly “overflows” and then the rock body suddenly vibrates, and the previously accumulated stress is released. Until now, experts believed that the intense ground movements at that time were due to friction along the faults becoming unstable.

They had already tried to measure this instability, but researchers have now come to the conclusion that a more accurate picture can be obtained by knowing the geometry of the fractures. Although this sounds simple, it is necessary to create a very comprehensive picture of how some parts of the complex fault line system exist in space. The researchers arrived at this conclusion through mathematical modeling and examination of fault zones in California.

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It is perhaps easier to imagine the researchers' theory with the help of an example. The surface of rock bodies touching each other resembles the teeth of a more complex and sharp saw. During their movement, they stick together, and then shocks occur.

On the other hand, since these meeting surfaces can be considered more like smooth waves, the rocky bodies gently slide over each other without shaking. According to the researchers, this engineering theory also explains why there are large differences in ground shaking that can occur when two earthquakes of the same magnitude occur. It can also be concluded that strong tremors can occur in some fault zones and weaker ones in others, and that a fault line can exist without tremors in other zones.

In order to validate the model based on California data, fault systems must be examined in other fields, but the idea seems promising.

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