Authors: Tarasov, BG


Cite As:
Tarasov, BG 2008, 'New Insight into the Nature of Shear Rupture Propagation in Pristine Rocks and Pre-Existing Faults', in Y Potvin, J Carter, A Dyskin & R Jeffrey (eds), SHIRMS 2008: Proceedings of the First Southern Hemisphere International Rock Mechanics Symposium, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 37-68,

Download citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

This paper proposes a new insight into the role of fault structure in the determination of fault properties which explains a number of enigmatic aspects of fault behaviour. It is shown that hard rocks which failed at high confining pressure (σ3) exhibit specific properties that distinguish them markedly from common rock behaviour. They become extremely brittle with brittleness increasing with σ3 and lose shear resistance within a certain range of shear rupture displacement. The behaviour is caused by the intrinsic nature of the fault structure, which is an echelon of blocks operating as hinges, essentially eliminating friction at high confining pressure of a certain displacement range. Such rock properties result in increasing instability with depth and make rupture abnormally violent, both of which are well-established experimentally from studies of earthquakes and rockbursts at high stress level. The paper demonstrates that, while the same block structure may be found at a different scale in primary fractures and general faults, significantly different mechanisms are responsible for the formation of the structure in each case. A new approach is proposed for understanding fault segmentation and the role of junctions in fault propagation. It is argued that segmentation is a result of advanced triggering of new fractures that propagate both towards the current fracture and in the opposite direction. This mechanism triples the fault propagation speed. Special joining shear fractures formed at the meeting of the approaching segments help to accommodate the fault displacement and can significantly decrease the fault strength – thus contradicting the general belief that junctions represent strength barriers impeding the fault motion. It is shown also that the specific block structure involved in pre-existing natural faults can cause repeatable fault instability. A new stick-slip mechanism based on the frictionless concept is proposed in this paper. Improved understanding of the fracture process is important for better prediction and mitigation of dynamic events such as earthquakes and rockbursts.

Andrews, D. (1976) Rupture velocity of plane strain shear cracks, J. Geophys, Res. 81, pp. 5679–5687.
Andrews, D. (1980) A stochastic fault model, static case. J. Geophys. Res. 85, pp. 3867–3887.
Archuleta, R. (1982) Analysis of near source static and dynamic measurements from the 1979 Imperial Valley earthquake, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 72, pp. 1927–1956.
Ashby, M.F. and Sammis, C.G. (1990) The damage mechanics of brittle solids in compression, Pure Appl. Geophys., 133, pp. 489–521.
Bowden, F.P. and Tabor, D. (1964) The friction and lubrication of solids. Vol. 2, Clarendon, Oxford.
Brace, W.F. and Byerlee, J.D. (1966) Stick-slip as a mechanism for earthquakes. Science, 153, pp. 990–992.
Broberg, K.B. (1999) Cracks and Fracture, London: Academic.
Burgmann, R., Pollard, D.D. and Martel, S.J. (1994) Slip distributions on faults: effects of stress gradients, inelastic deformation, heterogeneous host-rock stiffness, and fault interaction, J. Struct. Geol. 16, pp. 1675–1690.
Byerlee, J.D. (1969) The mechanics of stick-slip. Tectonophysics, pp. 475–486.
Chester, F.M., Evans, J.P. and Biegel, R.L. (1993) Internal structure and weakening mechanisms of the San Andreas Fault, J. Geophys. Res., 98, pp. 771–786.
Clayton, L. (1966) Tectonic depressions along the Hase fault, a transcurrent fault in north Canterbury, New Zealand, N. Z. J. Geol. Geophys. 9, pp. 94–104.
Cox, S.J.D. and Scholz, C.H. (1988) On the formation and growth of faults: an experimental study. J. Struct. Geol., 10, pp. 413–430.
Das, S. (1985) Application of dynamic shear crack models to the study of the earthquake faulting process. Int. J. Fract., 27, pp. 263-276.
Das, S. and Aki, K. (1977) Fault plane with barriers: A versatile earthquake model. J. Geophys. Res., 103, pp. 21091–21097.
Dieterich, J.H. (1972) Time-dependent friction in rocks. J. Geophys. Res. 77, pp. 3690–3697.
Domowska, R. and Rice, J.R. (1986) Continuum theories in solid earth physics, Amsterdam: Elsevier, pp. 1881–1902.
Ellsworth, W.L. and Beroza, G.C. (1995) Seismic evidence for an earthquake nucleation phase. Science, 268, pp. 851–855.
Ellsworth, W.L. and Celebi, M. (1999) Near field displacement time histories of the M7.4 Kocaeli (Izmit) Turkey earthquake of 17 August 1999, The American Geophysical union Fall meeting. Vol. 80 (Washington DC: American Geophysical Union), p. F648.
Freund, L.B. (1990) Dynamic fracture mechanics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gao, H. (1993) Surface roughening and branching instabilities in dynamic fracture. J. Mech. Phys. Solids., 41, N3, pp. 457–486.
Granier, T. (1985) Origin, damping and pattern of development of faults in granite, Tectonics, 4, pp. 721–737.
Hanks, T. and McGuire, R. (1981) The character of high-frequency strong ground motion. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 71, pp. 2071–2095.
Harris, R.A. and Day, S.M. (1993) Dynamics of fault interaction: parallel strike-slip faults. J. Geophys. Res., 98, pp. 4461–4472.
Harris, R.A. (1998) Introduction to special section: Stress triggers, stress shadows, and implications for seismic hazard, J. Geophys. Res.-Solid Earth., 103, pp. 24347–24358.
Hernandez, B., Cotton, F. and Campillo, M. (1999) Contribution of Radar interferometry to a two-step inversion of the kinematic process of the 1992 Landers earthquake. J. Geophys. Res. 104, pp. 13083–13099.
Hickman, S.H. (1991) Stress in the lithosphere and the strength of active faults, Rev. Geophys, 29, pp. 759–775.
Horii, H. and Nemat-Nasser, S. (1985) Compression-induced microcrack growth in brittle solids: Axial splitting and shear failure, J. Geophys. Res., 90, pp. 3105–3125.
Ida, Y. (1982) Stress concentration and unsteady propagation of longitudinal shear cracks, J. Geophys. Res., 77, pp. 3796–385.
Ide, S., Takeo, M. and Yoshida, Y. (1996) Source process of the 1995 Kobe earthquake: Determination of spatio-temporal slip distribution by Bayesian modelling. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 86, pp. 547–566.
Johnson, E. (1992) Process region changes for rapidly propagating cracks. Int. J. Fract., 55, pp. 47–63.
Johnson, T., Wu, F.T. and Scholz, C.H. (1973) Source parameters for stick-slip and for earthquakes. Science 179, pp. 278–280.
Kanamori, H. and Brodsky, E. (2001) The physics of earthquakes, Phys. Today, 54, pp. 34–40.
King, G.C.P. and Sammis, C.G. (1992) The mechanisms of finite brittle strain, PAGEOPH, 138, pp. 611–639.
King, G.C.P. and Cocco, M. (2000) Fault interaction by elastic stress changes; new clues from earthquake sequences, Advances in Geophys. 44, pp. 1–38.
Lawn, B.R. and Wilshaw, T.R. (1975) Fracture of Brittle Solids New York: Cambridge University Press.
Lockner, D.A., Byerlee, J.D., Kuksenko, V., Ponomarev, A. and Sidorin, A. (1991) Quasi-static fault growth and shear fracture energy in granite Nature, 350, pp. 3942.
Mandel, G. (2000) Faulting in brittle rocks, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
McKenzie, D. and Brune, N. (1972) Melting on fault planes during large earthquakes, Geophys. J.R. Astr. Soc., 29, pp. 65–78.
Moore, D.E., Summers, R. and Byerlee, J.D. (1990) Faults, fractures and other deformation features produced during loading of granite in triaxial equipment. U.S. Geol. Surv. Open File Rep., pp. 90–349.
Moore, D.E. and Lockner, D.A. (1995) The role of microcracking in shear-fracture propagation in granite, J. Struct. Geol. 17, pp. 95–114.
Nur, A. (1978) Nonuniform friction as a basis for earthquake mechanics. Pageoph, 116, pp. 964–989.
Ohnaka, M. (1973) Experimental studies of stick-slip and their application to the earthquake source mechanism. J. Phys. Earth 21, pp. 285–303.
Ohnaka, M., Kuwahara, Y., Yamamoto, K. and Hirasawa, T. (1986) Dynamic breakdown processes and the generating mechanism for high-frequency elastic radiation during stick-slip instabilities. In Earthquake source mechanics Geophys Monogr Ser, Edited by Das S, Boatwright J, Scholz CH. 13-24, AGU, Washington DC.
Ohnaka, M. and Kuwahara, Y. (1990) Characteristic features of local breakdown near a crack-tip in the transition zone from nucleation to unstable rupture during stick-slip shear failure, Tectonophysics 175, pp. 197–220.
Olsen, K.B., Madariaga, R. and Archuleta, R.J. (1997) Three-dimensional dynamic simulation of the 1992 Landers earthquake, Science, 278, 834.
Ortlepp, W.D. (1992) Note on fault-slip motion inferred from a study of micro-cataclastic particles from an underground shear rupture. PAGEOPH. Vol. 139, No. 3/4, pp. 677–695.
Ortlepp, W.D. (1997) Rock fracture and rockbursts. The South African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Johannesburg.
Ortlepp, W.D. (1999) Observation of mining-induced faults in an intact rock mass at depth. Int. J. Rock Mech., 37, pp. 423–436.
Ortlepp, W.D. (2000) Observation of mining-induced faults in an intact rock mass at depth. Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sc., 37, pp. 423–436.
Ortlepp, W.D. (2001) Thoughts on the rockburst source mechanism based on observations of the mine-induced shear rupture. The 5th International Symposium on Rockburst and Seismicity in Mines (RaSiM5), Johannesburg, South Africa, pp. 43–51.
Ortlepp, W.D., Armstrong, R., Ryder, J.A. and O’Connor, D. (2005) Fundamental study of micro-fracturing on the slipsurface of mine-induced dynamic brittle shear zones. Sixth International Symposium on Rockburst and Seismicity in Mines Proceedings, Perth, Australia, March, 2005.
Otsuki, K. and Dilov, T. (2005) Evolution of hierarchical self-similar geometry of experimental fault zones: Implications for seismic nucleation and earthquake size. J. Geoph. Res. 110, B03303, .
Peng, S. and Johnson, A.M. (1972) Crack growth and faulting in cylindrical specimens of Chelmsford granite. Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. 9, pp. 37–86.
Pollard, D.D. and Segall, P. (1987) Theoretical displacements and stresses near fractures in rock with applications to faults, joints, veins, dikes, and solution surfaces. In: Fracture Mechanics of Rock, BK Atkinson, ed. San Diego, Calif: Academic, pp. 277–349.
Poliakov, A.N.B., Domowska, R. and Rice, J.R. (2002) Dynamic shear rupture interactions with fault bends and off-axis secondary faulting, J. Geophys. Res. 107, no. B11, 2295, , ESE 6-1-6-18.
Ravi-Chandar, K. and Knauss, W.G. (1984) An experimental investigation into dynamic fracture: I. Crack initiation and arrest. Int. J. Fract., 25, pp. 247–262.
Reches, Z. and Lockner, D.A. (1994) Nucleation and growth of faults in brittle rocks. J. Geophys. Res. Vol. 99, No. B9, pp. 18159–18173.
Rice, J.R. (2001) New perspectives on crack and fault dynamics in Mechanics for a New Millennium: The 20th International congress of theoretical and applied mechanics, edited by H. Aref and J.W. Phillips (Dordrecht: Kluwer), pp. 1–23.
Rice, J.R., Sammis, C.G. and Parsons, R. (2005) Off-fault secondary failure indicud by a dynamic slip pulse. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 95, No. 1. pp. 109–134.
Rosakis, A.J., Samudrala, O. and Coker, D. (1999) Cracks faster than the shear wave speed. Science, 284, pp. 1337–1340.
Rosakis, A.J. (2002) Intersonic shear cracks and fault ruptures. Advances in physics, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 1189–1257.
Rosakis, A.J. (2006) Laboratory earthquakes, Int. J. Fracture, 138, pp. 211–218.
Ruina, A. (1983) Slip instability and state variable friction laws. J. Geophys Res. 88, pp. 10359–10370.
Scholz, C.H. (2002) The mechanics of earthquakes and faulting. Cambridge University Press.
Segall, P. and Pollard, D.D. (1980) The mechanics of discontinuous faults, J. Geophys. Res., 85, pp. 4337–4250.
Segall, P. and Pollard, D.D. (1983) Nucleation and growth of strike-slip faults in granite, J. Geoph. Res., 88, pp. 555–568.
Sharp, R.V. and Clark, M.M. (1972) Geologic evidence of previous faulting near the 1968 rupture on the Coyote Creed fault, U.S. Geol. Surv. Proof. Pap., 787, pp. 131–140.
Sibson, R.H. (1980) Power dissipation and stress levels on faults in the upper crust. J. Geophys. Res., 85, pp. 6239–6247.
Sibson, R.H. (1985) Stopping of earthquake ruptures at dilatational jogs. Nature, 316, pp. 248–251.
Sibson, R.H. (1986) Rupture interaction with fault jogs, Earthquake source mechanisms, S. Das, J. Boatwright and C.H. Scholz (editors), American Geophysical Union, Washington.
Stain, R.S. (1999) The role of stress transfer in earthquake occurrence. Nature, 402, pp. 605–609.
Tarasov, B.G. (2007) Intersonic shear rupture mechanism. Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. 45, 6, pp. 914–928.
Tarasov, B.G. and Randolph, M.F. (2007) Frictionless shear at great depth and other paradoxes of hard rocks, Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. 45, 3, pp. 316–328.
Tarasov, B.G. (2008) Brittle stick-slip instability and fault reactivation (submitted to Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. on 26. 03. 2008).
Tse, S. and Rice, J. (1986) Crustal earthquake instability in relation to the depth variation of frictional slip properties. J. Geophys. Res. 91, pp. 9452–9472.
Tullis, T.E. (1988) Rock friction constitutive behaviour from laboratory experiments and its implications for an earthquake prediction field monitoring program. Pure Appl. Geophys 126, pp. 555–558.
Umeda, Y. (1990) High-amplitude seismic waves radiated from the bright spot of an earthquake. Tectonophysics, 175, pp. 81–92.
Vermilye, J.M. and Scholz, C.H. (1999) Fault propagation and segmentation: insight from the microstructural examination of a small fault, J. Struct. Geol., 21, pp. 1623–1636.
Wald, D.J. and Heaton, T.H. (1994) Temporal distribution of slip for the 1992 Landers, California, earthquake. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 84, pp. 668–691.
Washabaugh, P.D. and Knauss, W.G. (1994) A reconciliation of dynamic crack velocity and Rayleigh wave speed in isotropic brittle solids. Int. J. Fract., 65, pp. 97–114.
Wu, F.T., Thomson, K.C. and Kuenzler, H. (1972) Stick-slip propagation velocity and seismic source mechanism. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am. 62, pp. 1621–1628.
Wu, C.J., Takeo, M. and Ide, S. (2001) Source process of the Chi-Chi earthquake: A joint inversion of strong motion data and global positioning system data with a multifault model. Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 91, pp. 1128–1143.
Wyss, M. and Brune, J. (1967) The Alaska earthquake of 28 March 1964: A complex multiple rupture, Bull. Seismol. Soc. Am., 57, pp. 1017–1023.
Ziv, A. and Rubin, A.M. (2000) Static stress transfer and earthquake triggering: no lower threshold in sight, J. Geophys. Res., 105, pp. 13631–13642.

© Copyright 2024, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
View copyright/legal information
Please direct any queries or error reports to