Friction of ice

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



The frictional strength of ice seems to be well below that for all other rocks. Triaxial testing of cylinders of pure water ice containing a 45° inclined sawcut, at temperatures of 77 ≤ T ≤ 115 K and confining pressures 0.1 ≤ P ≤ 250 MPa, reveals the frictional laws τ = 0.20 σn + 8.3 MPa for P ≥ 10 MPa and τ = 0.55 σn + 1.0 MPa for P ≤ 5 MPa, where τ and σn are the shear and normal stresses on the sawcut surface. Friction is independent of T and, over the one order of magnitude tested, of average sliding velocity. The sliding behavior is invariably stick slip. Examination of sliding surfaces shows only minor gouge development. A curious arrangement of densely packed short vertical fractures occurs primarily in samples with anomalously low strength. These results apply to models of near‐surface tectonic activity on Jupiter's three large icy moons, Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede. They indicate, for example, that a global expansion on Ganymede of 3 linear percent will cause extensional movement on preexisting faults at depths to 7±3 km.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Friction of ice
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/JB093iB07p07625
Volume 93
Issue B7
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Earthquake Science Center
Description 9 p.
First page 7625
Last page 7633
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