Document Type


Publication Date



The seismic moment for regular earthquakes is proportional to the cube of rupture time. A second class of phenomena, collectively called slow earthquakes, has very different scaling. We propose a model, inspired from the phenomenology of dislocation dynamics in crystals, that is consistent with the scaling relations observed in the Cascadia episodic tremor and slip (ETS) events. Two fundamental features of ETS are periodicity and migration. In the northern Cascadia subduction zone, ETS events appear every 14.5 months or so. During these events, tremors migrate along-strike with a velocity of 10 km/day and simultaneously zip back and forth in the relative plate-motion direction with a typical velocity of 50 km/h. Our model predicts the formation of a sequence of slip pulses on the boundary of the plates, which describes the major features of fault dynamics, including periodicity and the migration pattern of tremors.


Copyright © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

The following article appeared in Geophysical Research Letters 38(1), and may be found at

Permission to Deposit an Article in an Institutional Repository:

Adopted by Council 13 December 2009.

AGU allows authors to deposit their journal articles if the version is the final published citable version of record, the AGU copyright statement is clearly visible on the posting, and the posting is made 6 months after official publication by the AGU.



Included in

Physics Commons