Rock friction under variable normal stress

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



This study is to determine the detailed response of shear strength and other fault properties to changes in normal stress at room temperature using dry initially bare rock surfaces of granite at normal stresses between 5 and 7 MPa. Rapid normal stress changes result in gradual, approximately exponential changes in shear resistance with fault slip. The characteristic length of the exponential change is similar for both increases and decreases in normal stress. In contrast, changes in fault normal displacement and the amplitude of small high-frequency elastic waves transmitted across the surface follow a two stage response consisting of a large immediate and a smaller gradual response with slip. The characteristic slip distance of the small gradual response is significantly smaller than that of shear resistance. The stability of sliding in response to large step decreases in normal stress is well predicted using the shear resistance slip length observed in step increases. Analysis of the shear resistance and slip-time histories suggest nearly immediate changes in strength occur in response to rapid changes in normal stress; these are manifested as an immediate change in slip speed. These changes in slip speed can be qualitatively accounted for using a rate-independent strength model. Collectively, the observations and model show that acceleration or deceleration in response to normal stress change depends on the size of the change, the frictional characteristics of the fault surface, and the elastic properties of the loading system.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Rock friction under variable normal stress
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1002/2017JB014049
Volume 122
Issue 9
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 34 p.
First page 7042
Last page 7075
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