Hydrothermal frictional strengths of rock and mineral samples relevant to the creeping section of the San Andreas Fault

Journal of Structural Geology
By: , and 

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Abstract

We compare frictional strengths in the temperature range 25–250 °C of fault gouge from SAFOD (CDZ and SDZ) with quartzofeldspathic wall rocks typical of the central creeping section of the San Andreas Fault (Great Valley sequence and Franciscan Complex). The Great Valley and Franciscan samples have coefficients of friction, μ > 0.35 at all experimental conditions. Strength is unchanged between 25° and 150 °C, but μ increases at higher temperatures, exceeding 0.50 at 250 °C. Both samples are velocity strengthening at room temperature but show velocity-weakening behavior beginning at 150 °C and stick-slip motion at 250 °C. These rocks, therefore, have the potential for unstable seismic slip at depth. The CDZ gouge, with a high saponite content, is weak (μ = 0.09–0.17) and velocity strengthening in all experiments, and μ decreases at temperatures above 150 °C. Behavior of the SDZ is intermediate between the CDZ and wall rocks: μ < 0.2 and does not vary with temperature. Although saponite is probably not stable at depths greater than ∼3 km, substitution of the frictionally similar minerals talc and Mg-rich chlorite for saponite at higher temperatures could potentially extend the range of low strength and stable slip down to the base of the seismogenic zone.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrothermal frictional strengths of rock and mineral samples relevant to the creeping section of the San Andreas Fault
Series title Journal of Structural Geology
DOI 10.1016/j.jsg.2016.06.005
Volume 89
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 15 p.
First page 153
Last page 167
Country United States
State California