A fault rupture propagation through sand: finite element analysis and validation through centrifuge experiments

I. Anastasopoulos, G. Gazetas, M. F. Bransby, M. C. R. Davies, A. El Nahas

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    267 Citations (Scopus)


    NOTE: THE SPECIAL CHARACTERS IN THIS ABSTRACT CANNOT BE DISPLAYED CORRECTLY ON THIS PAGE. PLEASE REFER TO THE ABSTRACT ON THE PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE FOR AN ACCURATE DISPLAY. The three notorious earthquakes of 1999 in Turkey (Kocaeli and Düzce) and Taiwan (Chi-Chi), having offered numerous examples of surface fault rupturing underneath civil engineering structures, prompted increased interest in the subject. This paper develops a nonlinear finite-element methodology to study dip–slip (“normal” and “reverse”) fault rupture propagation through sand. The procedure is verified through successful Class A predictions of four centrifuge model tests. The validated methodology is then utilized in a parametric study of fault rupture propagation through sand. Emphasis is given to results of engineering significance, such as: (1) the location of fault outcropping; (2) the vertical displacement profile of the ground surface; and (3) the minimum fault offset at bedrock necessary for the rupture to reach the ground surface. The analysis shows that dip–slip faults refract at the soil–rock interface, initially increasing in dip. Normal faults may keep increasing their dip as they approach the ground surface, as a function of the peak friction angle p and the angle of dilation p. In contrast, reverse faults tend to decrease in dip, as they emerge on the ground surface. For small values of the base fault offset, h, relative to the soil thickness, H, a dip–slip rupture cannot propagate all the way to the surface. The h/H ratio required for outcropping is an increasing function of soil “ductility.” Reverse faults require significantly higher h/H to outcrop, compared to normal faults. When the rupture outcrops, the height of the fault scrap, s, also depends on soil ductility.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)943-958
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Finite element method
    • Predictions
    • Centrifuge model
    • Earthquakes
    • Shear deformation
    • Scale effect


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