• crack dynamics;
  • earthquake rupture;
  • fault healing;
  • friction laws;
  • slip weakening


We study the dynamic initiation, propagation and arrest of a 2-D in-plane shear rupture by solving the elastodynamic equation by using both a boundary integral equation method and a finite difference approach. For both methods we adopt different constitutive laws: a slip-weakening (SW) law, with constant weakening rate, and rate- and state-dependent friction laws (Dieterich–Ruina). Our numerical procedures allow the use of heterogeneous distributions of constitutive parameters along the fault for both formulations. We first compare the two solution methods with an SW law, emphasizing the required stability conditions to achieve a good resolution of the cohesive zone and to avoid artificial complexity in the solutions. Our modelling results show that the two methods provide very similar time histories of dynamic source parameters. We point out that, if a careful control of resolution and stability is performed, the two methods yield identical solutions. We have also compared the rupture evolution resulting from an SW and a rate- and state-dependent friction law. This comparison shows that despite the different constitutive formulations, a similar behaviour is simulated during the rupture propagation and arrest. We also observe a crack tip bifurcation and a jump in rupture velocity (approaching the P-wave speed) with the Dieterich–Ruina (DR) law. The rupture arrest at a barrier (high strength zone) and the barrier-healing mechanism are also reproduced by this law. However, this constitutive formulation allows the simulation of a more general and complex variety of rupture behaviours. By assuming different heterogeneous distributions of the initial constitutive parameters, we are able to model a barrier-healing as well as a self-healing process. This result suggests that if the heterogeneity of the constitutive parameters is taken into account, the different healing mechanisms can be simulated. We also study the nucleation phase duration Tn, defined as the time necessary for the crack to reach the half-length lc. We compare the Tn values resulting from distinct simulations calculated using different constitutive laws and different sets of constitutive parameters. Our results confirm that the DR law provides a different description of the nucleation process than the SW law adopted in this study. We emphasize that the DR law yields a complete description of the rupture process, which includes the most prominent features of SW.