The Earth’s surface deforms in response to earthquake fault dislocations at depth. Deformation models are constructed to interpret the corresponding ground movements recorded by geodetic data such GPS and InSAR, and ultimately characterize the seismic ruptures. Conventional analytical and latest numerical solutions serve similar purpose but with different technical constraints. The former cannot simulate the heterogeneous rock properties and structural complexity, while the latter directly tackles these challenges but requires more computational resources. As demonstrated in the 2015 M7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake and the 2016 M6.2 Amatrice, Italy earthquake, we develop state-of-art finite element models (FEMs) to efficiently accommodate both the material and tectonic complexity of a seismic deformational system in a seamless model environment. The FEM predictions are significantly more accurate than the analytical models embedded in a homogeneous half-space at the 95% confidence level. The primary goal of this chapter is describe a systematic approach to design, construct, execute and calibrate FEMs of elastic earthquake deformation. As constrained by coseismic displacements, FEM-based inverse analyses are employed to resolve linear and nonlinear fault-slip parameters. With such numerical techniques and modeling framework, researchers can explicitly investigate the spatial distribution of seismic fault slip and probe other in-depth rheological processes.
Part of the book: Earthquakes