Effects of shear load on frictional healing

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kerry L Ryan and Chris Marone, Penn State Univ, University Park, PA, United States
During the seismic cycle of repeated earthquake failure, faults regain strength in a process known as frictional healing. Laboratory studies have played a central role in illuminating the processes of frictional healing and fault re-strengthening. These studies have also provided the foundation for laboratory-derived friction constitutive laws, which have been used extensively to model earthquake dynamics.

We conducted laboratory experiments to assess the affect of shear load on frictional healing. Frictional healing is quantified during slide-hold-slide (SHS) tests, which serve as a simple laboratory analog for the seismic cycle in which earthquakes (slide) are followed by interseismic quiescence (hold). We studied bare surfaces of Westerly granite and layers of Westerly granite gouge (thickness of 3 mm) at normal stresses from 4-25 MPa, relative humidity of 40-60%, and loading and unloading velocities of 10-300 μm/s. During the hold period of SHS tests, shear stress on the sample was partially removed to investigate the effects of shear load on frictional healing and to isolate time- and slip-dependent effects on fault healing. Preliminary results are consistent with existing works and indicate that frictional healing increases with the logarithm of hold time and decreases with normalized shear stress τ/τf during the hold. During SHS tests with hold periods of 100 seconds, healing values ranged from (0.013-0.014) for τ/τf = 1 to (0.059-0.063) for τ/τf = 0, where τ is the shear stress during the hold period and τf is the shear stress during steady frictional sliding. Experiments on bare rock surfaces and with natural and synthetic fault gouge materials are in progress.

Conventional SHS tests (i.e. τ/τf = 1) are adequately described by the rate and state friction laws. However, previous experiments in granular quartz suggest that zero-stress SHS tests are not well characterized by either the Dieterich or Ruina state evolution laws. We are investigating the processes that produce shear stress dependent frictional healing, alternate forms of the state evolution law, and comparing results for friction of bare rock surfaces and granular fault gouge.