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Probing changes in frictional state due to normal stress perturbations using controlled-source ultrasonics
  • Srisharan Shreedharan,
  • Jacques Riviere,
  • Chris Marone
Srisharan Shreedharan
Pennsylvania State University Main Campus

Corresponding Author:srisharan.nitk@gmail.com

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Jacques Riviere
Penn State University
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Chris Marone
Pennsylvania State University
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We perform a suite of laboratory friction experiments on saw-cut Westerly Granite surfaces and probe frictional state evolution in response to step changes in normal stress. The experiments are conducted with the objective of illuminating the origin of friction memory effects and the fundamental processes that yield friction rate and state dependence. In contrast to previous works, we measure directly the fault slip rate and account for changes in slip rate caused by normal stress perturbations. Further, we complement mechanical data acquisition by continuously probing the faults with ultrasonic pulses. We conduct the experiments at room temperature and humidity conditions in a servo controlled biaxial testing apparatus in the double direct shear configuration. The normal stress perturbations are carried out during steady shearing over a range of shear velocities, from 0.02 - 100 μm/s. We report observations of a transient shear stress and friction evolution with step increases and decreases in normal stress. Specifically, we show that shear stress evolves in a two-stage fashion – first linear-elastically, then inelastically in response to the normal stress step. We find that the excursions in slip rate resulting from the changes in normal stress must be accounted for in order to accurately predict fault strength evolution. The effects of induced changes in fault slip rate are also apparent in elastic wave properties. Ultrasonic wave amplitudes increase instantly in response to normal stress steps and then gradually decrease to a new steady state value, in part due to changes in fault slip rate. This decrease is strongly related to accelerated creep at the fault interface. We also demonstrate that steady state amplitudes are a reliable proxy for real contact area (RCA) at the fault interface. Previous descriptions of frictional state evolution during normal stress perturbations have not adequately accounted for large slip velocity excursions. Here, we do so by using the measured ultrasonic amplitudes as a proxy for frictional state during transient shear stress evolution. Our work improves understanding of induced seismicity and triggered earthquakes with particular focus on simulating static triggering and stress transfer phenomena using rate-and-state frictional formulations in earthquake rupture models.