Acoustic emission (AE) in rocks is studied as a model of natural seismicity. A special technique for rock loading has been used to help study the processes that control the development of AE during brittle deformation. This technique allows us to extend to hours fault growth which would normally occur very rapidly. In this way, the period of most intense interaction of acoustic events can be studied in detail. Characteristics of the acoustic regime (AR) include the Gutenberg-Richter b-value, spatial distribution of hypocenters with characteristic fractal (correlation) dimension d, Hurst exponent H, and crack concentration parameter Pc. The fractal structure of AR changes with the onset of the drop in differential stress during sample deformation. The change results from the active interaction of microcracks. This transition of the spatial distribution of AE hypocenters is accompanied by a corresponding change in the temporal correlation of events and in the distribution of event amplitudes as signified by a decrease of b-value. The characteristic structure that develops in the low-energy background AE is similar to the sequence of the strongest microfracture events. When the AR fractal structure develops, the variations of d and b are synchronous and d = 3b. This relation which occurs once the fractal structure is formed only holds for average values of d and b. Time variations of d and b are anticorrelated. The degree of temporal correlation of AR has time variations that are similar to d and b variations. The observed variations in laboratory AE experiments are compared with natural seismicity parameters. The close correspondence between laboratory-scale observations and naturally occurring seismicity suggests a possible new approach for understanding the evolution of complex seismicity patterns in nature. ?? 1997 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Physical modeling of the formation and evolution of seismically active fault zones