Scaling relations for seismic cycles on mid-ocean ridge transform faults Academic Article uri icon


  • Mid-ocean ridge transform faults (RTFs) have thermal structures that vary systematically with tectonic parameters, resulting in predictable seismic characteristics and clear seismic cycles. We develop a scaling relation for repeat time, tR, of the largest expected earthquake, MC: tR = ??1??2/3CMc1/3AT1/4V?1, where ? is the shear modulus, ?? is the stress drop, CMc is a constant, AT is the area above 600°C, and V is the slip rate. We identify repeating MC earthquakes by measuring differential arrival times of first orbit Rayleigh waves to determine centroid offsets between pairs of events. Comparing our observations of tR (5–14 years for earthquakes on Gofar and Blanco RTFs) with predictions from our scaling relation, we can constrain RTF stress drops. Specific tests of this scaling relation are proposed for earthquakes on Blanco, Gofar, Discovery, and Clipperton RTFs, which are all expected to have large ruptures in the next few years.

publication date

  • November 4, 2009