A technique is presented for estimating frictional strength of narrow shear zones based on hand selection of drillhole cuttings separates. Tests were conducted on cuttings from the SAFOD scientific drillhole near Parkfield, California. Since cuttings are mixed with adjacent material as they travel up the drillhole, these fault-derived separates give a better representation of the frictional properties of narrow features than measurements from the bulk material alone. Cuttings from two shear zones (one an active trace of the San Andreas fault) contain a significant weight percent of clay-rich grains that exhibit deformation-induced slickensides. In addition, cuttings from the active SAF trace contain around 1% serpentine. Coefficients of friction for clay-rich and serpentine grains were 0.3-0.5 and 0.4-0.45, respectively. These values are around 0.12 lower than the friction coefficient of the corresponding bulk cuttings, providing an improved estimate of the frictional strength of the San Andreas fault. Copyright 2007 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Using drill cutting separates to estimate the strength of narrow shear zones at SAFOD