Scaling rules in rock fracture and possible implications for earthquake prediction

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A major preoccupation in physical sciences has been to interpret macroscopic events from microscopic phenomena. In some cases the change of scale is efficient and fairly easy to perform, but in others it turns out to be difficult and uninteresting. Success or failure is due more to the nature of the events than to the efficiency of the theoretical methods used. Some macroscopic phenomena have their origin in a microscopic organization which can be transferred to larger scales whereas others attain their structure on the macroscopic scale itself. Thus before applying scaling laws techniques1–4 one must ensure that embedded scales are suggested by physical observations. That this seems to be the case for the fracture of rocks is supported by geological, seismological and rock mechanics observations. We have therefore built a very simple model based on scaling laws which yields a criterion for fragility at different scales and views rupture as a critical point. We use this model here to outline a general approach to earthquake prediction.

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Allègre, C., Le Mouel, J. & Provost, A. Scaling rules in rock fracture and possible implications for earthquake prediction. Nature 297, 47–49 (1982) doi:10.1038/297047a0

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