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    Supershear Rupture in a Laboratory Earthquake  


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Michael Mello
Graduate Student, Aeronautics

This high-speed photoelasticity image sequence, obtained using a unique laboratory earthquake arrangement, reveals the evolution of shear wave Mach fronts, the defining signature of a supershear earthquake. Circular pressure and shear wave- fronts are initially seen centered about a sliding rupture front as it propagates along the frictional fault. Sharp, triangular Mach fronts subsequently emerge as the speed of the rupture tip exceeds the shear wave speed of the surrounding medium. A particularly striking feature within this image sequence is the presence of a second trailing Mach front which accelerates and ultimately catches up with the leading shock front.


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