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Evidence for rainfall-triggered earthquake activity

Year of publication2006
Author(s)Sebastian Hainzl
Co-authorsT. Kraft, J. Wassermann, H. Igel, E. Schmedes
JournalGeophysical Research Abstracts
Magazine No.VOL. 33, L19303
Publication typeJournal article
Fluids are known to be of major importance for the earthquake generation because pore pressure variations alter the strength of faults. Thus they can initiate earthquakes if the crust is close enough to its critical state. Based on the observations of the isolated seismicity below the densely monitored Mt. Hochstaufen, SE Germany, we are now able to demonstrate that the crust can be so close-to-failure that even tiny pressure variations associated with precipitation can trigger earthquakes in a few kilometer depth. We find that the recorded seismicity is highly correlated with the calculated spatiotemporal pore pressure changes due to diffusing rain water and in good agreement with the response of faults described by the rate-state friction law.