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Seismological evidence for the brittle-ductile interaction hypothesis on earthquake loading


We extended the analyses of temporal variation of coda Q−1 and seismicity by Jin and Aki (1989, 1993) for central and southern California to year 2003. We use the relative frequency N(M c ) of earthquakes in a certain magnitude range around M c characteristic to a seismic region to quantify the seismicity. The cross-correlation function between coda Q−1 and N(M c ) is calculated using a 10-year moving time window. The correlation coefficient for the entire period of about 60 years is peaked at the zero-time shift with the value close to 0.8 for both regions. We found, however, the simultaneous correlation is disturbed before major earthquakes. The disturbance is, consistently, a delay in the change of coda Q−1 relative to that of N(M c ) before the occurrence of a major earthquake. We attribute the temporal change in coda Q−1 to fractures in the ductile part of the lithosphere and that in N(M c ) to the response of the brittle part to the ductile fracture. We believe that M c characteristic to a seismic region is originated from a characteristic size of fractures in the ductile zone of the lithosphere. The observed delay of coda Q−1 change relative to N(M c ) before a major earthquake can be explained simply by the strain energy stored in the brittle part of lithosphere reaching a saturation limit and starting to flow back to the ductile part.


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Correspondence to Anshu Jin.

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Jin, A., Aki, K., Liu, Z. et al. Seismological evidence for the brittle-ductile interaction hypothesis on earthquake loading. Earth Planet Sp 56, 823–830 (2004).

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Key words

  • Coda Q
  • characteristic magnitude M c
  • seismogenic zone
  • plate driving earthquake loading
  • brittle-ductile transition zone