Seismic slip of oceanic strike-slip earthquakes
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Oceanic strike-slip earthquakes occur on transform faults and fracture zones that cut across thousands of kilometers of seafloor. The largest of these events often rupture a considerable portion of their associated fault and can provide a comprehensive look at seismic slip across the entire fault plane as well as constraints on the depth extent of seismic slip. It is generally accepted that seismic and aseismic slip along oceanic transform faults is thermally controlled, however composition and geometry have been proposed as significant controls on some faults. High strain rates are a mechanism to achieve greater rupture depths, such as the unusually deep centroids reported for the largest strike-slip earthquake recorded to date, the 2012 MW 8.6 Indian Ocean earthquake. Detailed studies of notable earthquakes and a scattering of well-known faults have been of great use in elucidating oceanic strike-slip rupture. Determining if observed behavior is characteristic of all oceanic strike-slip faults requires a different approach. To resolve how seismic and aseismic slip are controlled with depth and along strike, well-constrained depths of many earthquakes along oceanic strike-slip faults are determined by modeling teleseismic body waves. Finite-fault slip inversions are calculated for the largest, most recent, and best-recorded oceanic strike-slip events. The constrained depth and along-strike location of slip for numerous oceanic earthquakes on strike-slip faults illuminates the distribution of seismic rupture on these faults in detail, as well as in unprecedented breadth through the examination of oceanic faults in a range of spreading rates and lithosphere ages. These well-constrained depths are within the expected limit to brittle failure (600-800ºC) and show that seismic rupture extends throughout the upper mantle to the crust. Observations of seismic rupture along an oceanic strike-slip fault also provide a comparison to the behavior of continental strike-slip faults that pose a far greater hazard to population centers, such as the San Andreas Fault in the Western United States and the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey.