CORDIS - EU research results

Fault Activation and Earthquake Rupture

Project description

Fault stimulation and earthquake initiation

Although earthquakes represent a significant danger for human societies, there is as yet no method to predict them. A better understanding of the phenomena and their intensity can make society more resistant to catastrophic earthquakes. However, the lack of proper experimental facilities for observing the earthquake process at close distance has prevented further understanding. A new underground experimental establishment in the Bedretto tunnel in the Swiss Alps offers the opportunity to conduct fault stimulation and earthquake nucleation experiments at depths and pressures not possible until now. The EU-funded FEAR project will perform the first-ever programme to execute controlled 50-100-metre scale fault stimulation experiments in underground rock at over 1 000 metres depth and precondition the stress distribution of the fault to execute real-time experiments.


Earthquakes are one the most significant hazards for human society, and at the same time, they remain the most elusive. Advancing our ability to understand their occurrence and intensity is of paramount importance for efforts to make society more resilient to the risk posed by catastrophic earthquakes. Progress in further understanding of earthquake physics is hindered by the lack of appropriate experimental facilities for observing the earthquake process at close distance and further advances will depend on the possibility to perform controlled experiments of fault stimulation and earthquake initiation at relevant depths and pressures. A new deep underground experimental facility is being constructed in the Bedretto tunnel in the Swiss Alps, offering a unique opportunity to perform fault stimulation and earthquake nucleation experiments on a scale and depth not available until now. FEAR will conduct the first-ever program to: (i) perform controlled 50-100 m scale fault stimulation experiments in basement rock at over 1'000m depth, (ii) pre-condition the stress distribution on the fault to perform real-time tests of different physical source and forecasting hypotheses, (iii) deploy data-driven approaches and real-time modelling to conduct structured prospective forecasting experiments, (iv) integrate and validate results from deep-underground experiments, experimental rock-deformation laboratories, numerical physics and dynamic modeling, and observations from natural earthquakes. The ERC Synergy framework enables to bring together the key complementary competences in Europe and to integrate them into a coherent program.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 11 748 500,00
Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich

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Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Zürich Zürich
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 11 748 500,00

Beneficiaries (3)