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Transient Brittle Creep mechanism explains early postseismic phase of the 2011 Tohoku-Oki megathrust earthquake: observations by high-rates GPS solutions
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  • Axel Periollat,
  • Mathilde Radiguet,
  • Jérôme Weiss,
  • Cedric Twardzik,
  • David Amitrano,
  • Nathalie Cotte,
  • Lou Marill,
  • Anne Socquet
Axel Periollat

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Mathilde Radiguet
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Jérôme Weiss
French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS)
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Cedric Twardzik
University of Strasbourg
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David Amitrano
ISTerre, Université Grenoble Alpes
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Nathalie Cotte
University Joseph Fourier / CNRS
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Lou Marill
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Anne Socquet
Université Grenoble Alpes
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The early stage of the postseismic phase is characterized by a large deformation rate. Its analysis is thus key to decipher the role played by different mechanisms (afterslip and viscoelasticity) at various time scales. Here, we process GPS data to obtain 30-seconds kinematic position time series recording the surface deformation following the Mw 9.0 Tohoku-Oki megathrust earthquake (2011), and combine them with static solutions over 9 years. We analyze the temporal evolution of the time series and use these observations to image the postseismic slip. We find that the first month of deformation following Tohoku-Oki can be explained by an afterslip mechanism, that exhibits an “Omori-like” decay, with a p-value around 0.75 almost everywhere with the exception of a small region around Ibaraki prefecture where p~1 is observed. This p<1 indicates that the postseismic displacements do not increase logarithmically with time as predicted by rate-and-state rheology. Instead, we argue that early afterslip is associated to a transient brittle creep mechanism. We use numerical simulations to show that an exponent of p<1 can be explained by a combination of thermal activation of local slips and elastic interactions. Over longer time scales, an additional mechanism is required to explain the observed deformation signal, and the transient brittle creep mechanism is combined with viscoelastic relaxation modeled by a Newtonian flow. The spatial analysis reveals two distinct afterslip regions, a major one on the North, associated with a p-value around 0.75, and a smaller one close to the Ibaraki aftershock, associated to p~1.