We review the present status of our research and understanding regarding the dynamics and the statistical properties of earthquakes, mainly from a statistical physical viewpoint. Emphasis is put both on the physics of friction and fracture, which provides a "microscopic" basis of our understanding of an earthquake instability, and on the statistical physical modelling of earthquakes, which provides "macroscopic" aspects of such phenomena. Recent numerical results on several representative models are reviewed, with attention to both their "critical" and "characteristic" properties. We highlight some of relevant notions and related issues, including the origin of power-laws often observed in statistical properties of earthquakes, apparently contrasting features of characteristic earthquakes or asperities, the nature of precursory phenomena and nucleation processes, the origin of slow earthquakes, etc. |