Fault zone fabric and fault weakness
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Fault zone fabric and fault weakness. Cristiano Collettini, Andre Niemeijer, Cecilia Viti & Chris Marone. Nature 2009. Paradoxe : Medium is “strong”. Laboratory measurements on a wide variety of rock types show that fault friction μ is in the range 0.6–0.8

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Fault zone fabric and fault weakness

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Fault zone fabric and fault weakness

Fault zone fabric and fault weakness

Cristiano Collettini, Andre Niemeijer, Cecilia Viti & Chris Marone

Nature 2009


Paradoxe medium is strong

Paradoxe: Medium is “strong”

  • Laboratory measurements on a wide variety of rock types show that fault friction μ is in the range 0.6–0.8

  • Several lines of evidence suggest μ = 0.6 is applicable to many faults :

    • failure mainly occurs on optimally oriented faults

    • No big EQ on mis-oriented fault

    • “normal” friction

    • Nearly hydrostatic pore pressure

Byerlee, PAG 1978


But evidences for weak fault

But evidences for weak fault

San Andreas fault, CA

Zuccale fault,

Isle of Elba

Longitudinal valley fault,

Taiwan


Explanation for fault weakness

Explanation for fault weakness

  • Dynamic weakening mechanisms

    • Presence of weak minerals


Laboratory measurements of fault friction

Laboratory measurements of fault friction

Serpentinite

Chlorite

Talc

serpentinite

illite

Montmorillonite = smectite

Carpenter, Marone and Saffer, GRL 2009

Byerlee, PAG 1978


Explanation for fault weakness1

Explanation for fault weakness

  • Dynamic weakening mechanisms

    • Presence of weak minerals

    • High fluid pressure within the fault core

    • Dynamic processes such as :

      • Normal stress reduction

      • Acoustic fluidization ?

      • Weakening related to high velocity (flash heating, increase of pore pressure)


Explanation for fault weakness2

Explanation for fault weakness

  • Dynamic weakening mechanisms

    • Presence of weak minerals but usually not in sufficient abundance

    • High fluid pressure within the fault core

    • Dynamic processes such as :

      • Normal stress reduction

      • Acoustic fluidization ?

      • Weakening related to high velocity (flash heating, increase of pore pressure)


Explanation for fault weakness3

Explanation for fault weakness

  • Dynamic weakening mechanisms

    • Presence of weak minerals but usually not in sufficient abundance

    • High fluid pressure within the fault core but required specialized conditions

    • Dynamic processes such as :

      • Normal stress reduction

      • Acoustic fluidization ?

      • Weakening related to high velocity (flash heating, increase of pore pressure)


Explanation for fault weakness4

Explanation for fault weakness

  • Dynamic weakening mechanisms

    • Presence of weak minerals but usually not in sufficient abundance

    • High fluid pressure within the fault core but required specialized conditions

    • Dynamic processes such as :

      • Normal stress reduction

      • Acoustic fluidization ?

      • Weakening related to high velocity (flash heating, increase of pore pressure)

        but creep and aseismic slip also occur on weak fault

        how is frictional slip initiated on mis-oriented fault?

Friction is low in the long term!


Explanation for fault weakness5

Explanation for fault weakness

  • Dynamic weakening mechanisms

    • Presence of weak minerals but usually not in sufficient abundance

    • High fluid pressure within the fault core but required specialized conditions

    • Dynamic processes such as :

      • Normal stress reduction

      • Acoustic fluidization ?

      • Weakening related to high velocity (flash heating, increase of pore pressure)

        but creep and aseismic slip also occur on weak fault

        how is frictional slip initiated on mis-oriented fault?

  • Need of other weakening mechanisms

    Suggestion: brittle, frictional weakening mechanism based on common fault zone fabrics


Zuccale fault isle of elba

Zuccale fault, Isle of Elba

  • low-angle normal fault (15°)

  • total shear displacement of 6–8 km

  • stress field with a vertical maximum compression

    The fault is weak

Collettini et al., Nature 2009


Zuccale fault isle of elba1

Zuccale fault, Isle of Elba

  • hangingwall and footwall = rocks deformed by brittle cataclastic processes

  • fault core =highly foliated phyllosilicate-rich horizons, several meters thick, illustrating deformation occurring at less than 8 km depth

foliation made of tremolite and phyllosilicate (smectite, talc and minor chlorite)

Collettini et al., Nature 2009


Experiments

Experiments

  • Cohesive foliated fault rocks (L2 & L3)

    • wafers 0.8–1.2 cm thick

    • 5 cm x 5 cm in area

    • oriented with foliation parallel to shear direction

  • Powders

    • Crushing and sieving intact pieces of fault rock

    • samples used in the solid experiments.

  • Both kind of samples have been:

    • Sheared in the double direct shear configuration

    • 25 °C

    • Normal stresses from 10 to 150MPa

    • shear slip velocities of 1 to 300 μm/s

Measure of the steady state, residual, frictional shear stress at each normal stress.

Collettini et al., Nature 2009


Results

Results

Collettini et al., Nature 2009

plots along a line consistent with a brittle failure

envelope

μ = 0.55

μ = 0.31

Measure of the steady state, residual, frictional shear stress at each normal stress.


Results1

Results

  • powders show friction of about 0.6

  • foliated rocks have significantly lower values : μ = 0.45 – 0.20

Collettini et al., Nature 2009

plots along a line consistent with a brittle failure

envelope

μ = 0.55

μ = 0.31

Collettini et al., Nature 2009


Comparison between sliding surface

Comparison between sliding surface

  • Cohesive foliated fault rocks

  • Powders

  • Sliding surfaces are located along the pre-existing foliation made of tremolite and phyllosilicat

  • Deformation in powders occurs along zones characterized by grain-size reduction : abundant calcite clastsin a groundmass consisting of tremolite and phyllosilicates

Collettini et al., Nature 2009

Collettini et al., Nature 2009


Conclusion

Conclusion

  • Although the intact fault rock samples and their powders have identical mineralogical compositions, the foliated samples are much weaker than their powdered analogues.

  • The frictional strength of the solid wafers is comparable to that of pure talc at similar sliding conditions even with the presence of 65–80% of strong calcite and tremoliteminerals.

  • weakness of the foliated fault rocks is due to the reactivation of pre-existing fine-grained and phyllosilicate-rich surfaces that are absent in the powders

  • the average value of μ = 0.25 is sufficient to explain:

    • Absence of measurable heat flow along weak faults

    • Frictional reactivation of faults oriented up to 75° from the maximum compressive stress (SFA) or the low-angle normal faults (Apennines).


Could it explain eq frictional instability

Could it explain EQ frictional instability?

  • Geological investigations have documented the mutual superposition between slip on phyllosilicates and brittle (hydrofractures) or earthquake-related structures (pseudotachylytes)

  • Continuous strands of phyllosilicates usually bound lenses of stronger lithologies: these lenses could represent sites for stress concentrations and earthquake nucleation near patches of fault creep

  • Smectite sheared exhibits low friction (μ=0.15 - 0.32) and a transition from velocityweakening at low normal stress to velocitystrengthening at higher normal stress (>40 MPa)

    Some crustal faults can behave as weak structures over long timescales (millions of years) and be intermittently seismogenicon shorter timescales.


Fault zone fabric and fault weakness

Talc

  • Talc is a metamorphic mineral resulting from the metamorphism of magnesian minerals such as serpentine, pyroxene, amphibole, olivine, in the presence of carbon dioxide and water. This is known as talc carbonation or steatization.

  • Talc is primarily formed via hydration and carbonation of serpentine, via the following reaction:

    serpentine + carbon dioxide → talc + magnesite + water

    Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + 3CO2 → Mg3Si4O10(OH)2 + 3 MgCO3 + 3 H2O

  • This is typically associated with high-pressure, low-temperature minerals such as phengite, garnet, glaucophane within the lower blueschistfacies.

  • Fusion temperature : 900 to 1000°C


Orientation of the stress field sfa

Orientation of the stress field, SFA

Provost & Houston, JGR 2001


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