Possible coseismic laminar and non-laminar flow along subduction megathrusts

Thursday, 18 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Kohtaro Ujiie1, Kazuhiro Noguchi1, Tsubasa Saito1 and Akito Tsutsumi2, (1)University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Japan, (2)Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Coseismic deformation mechanisms during subduction earthquakes remained unclear other than frictional melting recorded in pseudotachylytes. However, the recent mineralogical studies in the shallow plate-boundary thrust in the Nankai subduction zone and the underplating-related duplex-fault zone in the Shimanto accretionary complex exhumed from 4–6 km depth have identified increased heating along the 2 mm-thick, clay-rich fault gouge and the few-centimeters-thick, basalt-derived ultracataclasite, respectively. The microstructures of the fault gouge are characterized by strong preferred orientation of clay particles along the gouge, while those of the ultracataclasite show the random fabric. High-velocity friction experiments were conducted on the disaggregated fault rocks under wet (water-saturated) conditions at different normal stresses, using the rotary shear frictional testing apparatus. The results show the rapid slip weakening with low peak and steady-state shear stress, and a very small slip weakening distance and fracture energy, suggesting the ease of earthquake rupture propagation through the fault materials. The steady-state shear stress is almost independent of normal stress, indicating that the gouge behaved like a fluid during high-velocity shearing. The microstructures after the experiments are marked by the development of foliated zone in the gouge layer, but the random fabric develops in the outermost region of the circular gouge layer. Given the nearly independence of steady-state shear stress on normal stress and the increase in the rotation velocity from the center of the rotation axis during the rotary shear, the change from foliated zone to non-foliated, random fabric in the circular gouge layer could represent the change from laminar to non-laminar (or turbulent) flow associated with the increase in the Reynolds number. The implications for the fault rocks are that the development of foliated and non-foliated zones may represent coseismic laminar and non-laminar flow, during which earthquake rupture can propagate easily due to fault lubrication.