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A granular-physics-based view of fault friction experiments

Behrooz Ferdowsi

Rate- and State-dependent Friction (RSF) equations are commonly used to describe the time-dependent frictional response of fault gouge to perturbations in sliding velocity. Among the better-known versions are the Aging and Slip laws for the evolution of state. Although the Slip law is more successful, neither can predict all the robust features of lab data. RSF laws are also empirical, and their micromechanical origin is a matter of much debate. Here we use a granular-physics-based model to explore the extent to which RSF behavior, as observed in rock and gouge friction experiments, can be explained by the response of a granular gouge layer with time-independent properties at the contact scale. We examine slip histories for which abundant lab data are available, and find that the granular model (1) mimics the Slip law for those loading protocols where the Slip law accurately models laboratory data (velocity-step and slide-hold tests), and (2) deviates from the Slip law under conditions where the Slip law fails to match laboratory data (the reslide portions of slide-hold-slide tests), in the proper sense to better match those data. The simulations also indicate that state is sometimes decoupled from rock gouge porosity in a way that is inconsistent with traditional interpretations of` “state” in RSF. Finally, if the “granular temperature” of the gouge is suitably normalized by the confining pressure, it produces an estimate of the direct velocity effect (the RSF parameter a) that is consistent with our simulations, and in the ballpark of lab data.

Speaker: Behrooz Ferdosi, Princeton Univ.

Friday, 12/06/19

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Earth and Marine Sciences Building

UC Santa Cruz
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Santa Cruz, CA 95064