The frictional properties of fault gouge have been studied at confining pressures to 6 kbars. If the gouge is composed of strong materials such as crushed granite or quartz sand, the frictional strength is high, and violent stick-slip occurs at confining pressures above approximately 1.5 kbars. If the gouge is composed of minerals such as illite, kaolinite, chlorite, or antigorite, which have weak bonding forces between the structural layers, the frictional strength is slightly lower, but violent stick-slip still occurs under high confining pressure. The expanding clays, montmorillonite and vermiculite, which have free water between their structural layers, slide stably at confining pressures as high as 6.25 kbars and exhibit low friction. A similar stable behavior with lowered strength is observed in water-saturated quartz sand when the water is confined within the fault zone during deformation. The results of this series of experiments support water being the stabilizing influence when it is either (1) trapped within or between rocks of low permeability and can provide a high pore pressure when the rocks are deformed, or (2) loosely bonded in a mineral structure, as in the hydrated clays, where it can produce a pseudo-pore pressure when the clay is compressed. In both these cases, the effective stress can be reduced and the deformation stabilized. ?? 1977.