Acoustic emission (AE) analyses have been used for decades for rock mechanics testing, but because AE systems are not typically calibrated, the absolute sizes of dynamic microcrack growth and other physical processes responsible for the generation of AEs are poorly constrained. We describe a calibration technique for the AE recording system as a whole (transducers + amplifiers + digitizers + sample + loading frame) that uses the impact of a 4.76-mm free-falling steel ball bearing as a reference source. We demonstrate the technique on a 76-mm diameter cylinder of westerly granite loaded in a triaxial deformation apparatus at 40 MPa confining pressure. The ball bearing is dropped inside a cavity within the sample while inside the pressure vessel. We compare this reference source to conventional AEs generated during loading of a saw-cut fault in a second granite sample. All located AEs occur on the saw-cut surface and have moment magnitudes ranging from M −5.7 down to at least M −8. Dynamic events rupturing the entire simulated fault surface (stick–slip events) have measurable stress drop and macroscopic slip and radiate seismic waves similar to those from a M −3.5 earthquake. The largest AE events that do not rupture the entire fault are M −5.7. For these events, we also estimate the corner frequency (200–300 kHz), and we assume the Brune model to estimate source dimensions of 4–6 mm. These AE sources are larger than the 0.2 mm grain size and smaller than the 76 × 152 mm fault surface.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Calibrated acoustic emission system records M -3.5 to M -8 events generated on a saw-cut granite sample|
|Series title||Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering|
|Contributing office(s)||Earthquake Science Center|