Hayward Fault rocks: porosity, density, and strength measurements

Open-File Report 2001-421




Porosity, density and strength measurements were conducted on rock samples collected from the Hayward Fault region in Northern California as part of the Hayward Fault Working Group’s efforts to create a working model of the Hayward Fault. The rocks included in this study were both fine and coarse grained gabbros, altered keratophyre, basalt, sandstone, and serpentinite from various rock formations adjacent to the Hayward Fault.

Densities ranged from a low of 2.25 gm/cc (altered keratophyre) to 3.05 gm/cc (fine gabbro), with an average of 2.6 gm/cc, typical of many other rocks. Porosities were generally around 1% or less, with the exception of the sandstone (7.6%) and altered keratophyre (13.5%).

Failure and frictional sliding tests were conducted on intact rock cylinders at room temperature under effective pressure conditions of up to 192 MPa, simulating depths of burial to 12 km. Axial shortening of the samples progressed at a rate of 0.1 µm/sec (fine samples) or 0.2 µm/sec (porous samples) for 6 mm of displacement. Velocity stepping tests were then conducted for an additional 2 mm of displacement, for a total of 8 mm. Both peak strength (usually failure strength) and frictional strength, determined at 8 mm of displacement, increased systematically with effective pressure. Coefficients of friction, based on the observed fracture angles, ranged from 0.6 to 0.85, consistent with Byerlee’s Law. Possible secondary influences on the strength of the Hayward rock samples may be surface weathering, or a larger number of pre-existing fractures due to the proximity to the Hayward Fault. All samples showed velocity strengthening, so that the average a-b values were all strongly positive. There was no systematic relation between a-b values and effective pressure. Velocity strengthening behavior is associated with stable sliding (creep), as observed in the shallow portions of the Hayward Fault.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hayward Fault rocks: porosity, density, and strength measurements
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Earthquake Science Center
28 p.
United States
Other Geospatial:
Hayward Fault