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Fault Stability Across the Seismogenic Zone

Abstract : Across the seismogenic zone, the transition from brittle to plastic deformation corresponds to a semibrittle regime where brittle fracturing and plastic flow coexist at high strength conditions. Thorough experimental investigations on brittle-plastic transition are crucial to understand why natural faults behave in stable or unstable ways at varying crustal depths and why large earthquakes generally nucleate at the base of the seismogenic zone. To investigate semibrittle deformation in carbonates and the conditions promoting it, we reported here the results of experiments performed on Carrara marble saw cut faults in triaxial conditions. We studied the influence of the confining pressure (ranging between 45 and 180 MPa), axial loading rates (0.01 and 1 μm s −1) and initial fault roughness (smooth and rough) on fault (in-)stability across the brittle-plastic transition. We conclude that laboratory earthquakes may nucleate on inherited fault interfaces at brittle-plastic transition conditions. The occurrence of laboratory earthquakes associated with increasing plastic deformation is promoted at high confining pressure, on smooth fault interfaces, or when the loading rate is slow. In a rather counterintuitive manner, increasing initial roughness promotes stable sliding and a larger amount of plastic deformation. Furthermore, we show that stable sliding tends to produce mirror-like surfaces, while stick-slips are associated with matte surfaces, on which the size of the asperities grows with increasing confining pressure. Finally, our results seem to reveal the influence of asperity hardness and melt viscosity on fault weakening.
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Contributeur : Alexandre Schubnel <>
Soumis le : dimanche 22 novembre 2020 - 23:11:36
Dernière modification le : mardi 24 novembre 2020 - 03:28:25


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Jérôme Aubry, F Passelègue, J Escartin, J Gasc, D Deldicque, et al.. Fault Stability Across the Seismogenic Zone. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2020, 125 (8), pp.e2020JB019670. ⟨10.1029/2020jb019670⟩. ⟨hal-03011293⟩



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