Short-term tectonics: Physics-based predictive models of the earthquake cycle in South Asia
The goal of this research is to mitigate natural hazards due to the seismic cycle – earthquake, tsunami, and sea level rise – using physical models of fault slip evolution derived from physical laws, modern geophysical data, and geological analysis. Earthquakes can cause tremendous destruction, particularly around the Indian Ocean where they are often followed by devastating tsunamis.
Detailed predictions of important aspects of the earthquake cycle such as recurrence intervals and magnitudes are still elusive, in part because of the nonlinear character of fault friction, but also because of limited record of past history. Ongoing efforts to predict the statistics of aftershocks and earthquake clustering are improving our understanding of the phenomenology, but a better appreciation of the long-term behavior of a fault system requires taking into account the physics that governs fault friction and off-fault deformation.
A large avenue of my research consists in building physics-based models of the earthquake cycle in large mega-thrust systems, such as the Sunda Thrust in Sumatra and the India-Eurasian collision. These models assimilate a collection of geological, geodetic and seismological data into a single self-consistent simulation. Exploring a family of models that explain the current observations allows us to describe possible scenarios of future seismicity and mitigate its associated risk.
Barbot S., N. Lapusta and J.-P. Avouac, "Under the Hood of the Earthquake Machine: Toward Predictive Modeling of the Seismic Cycle", Science, 2012