Talc is one of the weakest minerals that is associated with fault zones. Triaxial friction experiments conducted on water-saturated talc gouge at room temperature yield values of the coefficient of friction, ?? (shear stress, ??/effective normal stress, ?????N) in the range 0.16-0.23, and ?? increases with increasing ?????N. Talc gouge heated to temperatures of 100??-400????C is consistently weaker than at room temperature, and ?? < 0.1 at slow strain rates in some heated experiments. Talc also is characterized by inherently stable, velocity-strengthening behavior (strength increases with increasing shear rate) at all conditions tested. The low strength of talc is a consequence of its layered crystal structure and, in particular, its very weak interlayer bond. Its hydrophobic character may be responsible for the relatively small increase in ?? with increasing ?????N at room temperature compared to other sheet silicates. Talc has a temperature-pressure range of stability that extends from surficial to eclogite-facies conditions, making it of potential significance in a variety of faulting environments. Talc has been identified in exhumed subduction zone thrusts, in fault gouge collected from oceanic transform and detachment faults associated with rift systems, and recently in serpentinite from the central creeping section of the San Andreas fault. Typically, talc crystallized in the active fault zones as a result of the reaction of ultramafic rocks with silica-saturated hydrothermal fluids. This mode of formation of talc is a prime example of a fault-zone weakening process. Because of its velocity-strengthening behavior, talc may play a role in stabilizing slip at depth in subduction zones and in the creeping faults of central and northern California that are associated with ophiolitic rocks.
Additional Publication Details
Talc friction in the temperature range 25??-400????C: Relevance for Fault-Zone Weakening