We develop a stable and high-order accurate finite difference method for problems in earthquake rupture dynamics in complex geometries with multiple faults. The bulk material is an isotropic elastic solid cut by pre-existing fault interfaces that accommodate relative motion of the material on the two sides. The fields across the interfaces are related through friction laws which depend on the sliding velocity, tractions acting on the interface, and state variables which evolve according to ordinary differential equations involving local fields.
The method is based on summation-by-parts finite difference operators with irregular geometries handled through coordinate transforms and multi-block meshes. Boundary conditions as well as block interface conditions (whether frictional or otherwise) are enforced weakly through the simultaneous approximation term method, resulting in a provably stable discretization.
The theoretical accuracy and stability results are confirmed with the method of manufactured solutions. The practical benefits of the new methodology are illustrated in a simulation of a subduction zone megathrust earthquake, a challenging application problem involving complex free-surface topography, nonplanar faults, and varying material properties.