Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Chasing supershear earthquakes

This article has been updated

In rare and sometimes highly destructive cases, faults rupture faster than the seismic waves generated can travel. A global investigation of earthquake rupture speeds reveals that these events occur much more frequently than previously thought.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: The global distribution of supershear earthquakes.

Change history

  • 03 November 2022

    In the version of this article initially published, there was an error in Figure 1, where the outlines of plate boundaries were incorrectly shifted rightward. The figure has been updated in the HTML and PDF versions of the article.


  1. Dunham, E. M. & Bhat, H. S. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 113, 1–17 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bao, H., Xu, L., Meng, L. & Ampuero, J.-P. Nat. Geosci. (2022).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Burridge, R. Geophys. J. Int. 35, 439–455 (1973).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Andrews, D. J. J. Geophys. Res. 81, 5679–5687 (1976).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Xia, K., Rosakis, A. J. & Kanamori, H. Science 303, 1859–1861 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bouchon, M. et al. Tectonophysics 493, 244–253 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bao, H. & Ampuero, J.-P. et al. Nat. Geosci. 12, 200–205 (2019).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Shlomai, H. & Fineberg, J. Nat. Commun. 7, 11787 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Shi, Z. & Ben-Zion, Y. Geophys. J. Int. 165, 469–484 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Weng, H. & Ampuero, J.-P. Nat. Geosci. 13, 817–821 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Perrin, C., Manighetti, I., Ampuero, J.-P., Cappa, F. & Gaudemer, Y. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 121, 3666–3685 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Bruhat, L., Fang, Z. & Dunham, E. M. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 121, 210–224 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Dziewonski, A. M., Chou, T.-A. & Woodhouse, J. H. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 86, 2825–2852 (1981).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ekström, G., Nettles, M. & Dziewoński, A. M. Phys. Earth Planet. Inter. 200, 1–9 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Bird, P. Geochemistry, Geophys. Geosystems 4, 1105 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ryo Okuwaki.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The author declares no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Okuwaki, R. Chasing supershear earthquakes. Nat. Geosci. 15, 863–864 (2022).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing