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Keywords:

  • lithosphere viscosity;
  • interseismic deformation;
  • earthquake cycle

[1] The estimation of uniform viscosities representing the lower crust and uppermost mantle from postseismic or interseismic deformation (i.e., apparent viscosities) is inherently biased with respect to a depth dependence of the viscosities within each layer. Estimates are biased toward a more viscous lower crust or a less viscous lithospheric mantle, depending on the relative geometric mean viscosities of the two layers. When there is a low-viscosity shear zone beneath the fault, apparent viscosities are close to that of the shear zone immediately after the earthquake, although the apparent viscosities increase significantly during the later interseismic period. Inferences made from interseismic deformation that the lower crust is more viscous than the upper mantle may be entirely consistent with depth-dependent viscosity profiles that have a significant increase in viscosity from the lowermost crust to the uppermost mantle.