Cohesive Zone Length of Gabbro at Supershear Rupture Velocity

Monday, 15 December 2014
Eiichi Fukuyama1, Shiqing Xu1, Kazuo Mizoguchi2 and Futoshi Yamashita1, (1)National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, Tsukuba, Japan, (2)CRIEPI, Abiko, Japan
We investigated the shear strain field ahead of a supershear rupture. The strain data was obtained during large-scale biaxial friction experiments conducted at NIED in March 2013. We conducted friction experiments using a pair of meter-scale gabbro rock specimens whose simulated fault area was 1.5m x 0.1m. We applied 2.6MPa normal stress and loading velocity of 0.1mm/s. At the long side of the fault edge, which is parallel to the slip direction, 32 2-component semi-conductor strain gauges were installed at an interval of 50mm and 10mm off the fault. The data are conditioned by high frequency strain amplifiers (<0.5MHz) and continuously recorded at an interval of 1MHz with 16-bit resolution. Many stick slip events were observed and a unilateral rupture event was chosen in this analysis that propagated with supershear rupture velocity. One of the reasons for this selection was that the strain field ahead of the supershear rupture was not contaminated by elastic waves. Focusing on the rupture front, stress concentration was observed and sharp stress drop occurred immediately inside the rupture. We found that the stress concentration becomes mild as the rupture propagates and length of the stress concentration area becomes longer. This observation is quite interesting because in this experiment the rupture propagated at a constant speed close to root two times the shear wave velocity and thus a longer stress concentration region suggests more energy dissipation. We could speculate that such longer stress concentration area suggests longer plastic region ahead of the rupture (or longer cohesive distance). I.e. the cohesive zone length becomes longer as the rupture propagates to maintain constant rupture velocity propagation. We empirically obtained the relation Lc = 1.8x10^-5 L for 0.1<L<1.4[m] where Lc is cohesive zone length and L is ruptured length.