Acoustic emission and microslip precursors to stick-slip failure in sheared granular material

P. A. Johnson, B. Ferdowsi, B. M. Kaproth, M. Scuderi, M. Griffa, J. Carmeliet, R. A. Guyer, P. Y. Le Bas, D. T. Trugman, C. Marone

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112 Scopus citations


We investigate the physics of laboratory earthquake precursors in a biaxial shear configuration. We conduct laboratory experiments at room temperature and humidity in which we shear layers of glass beads under applied normal loads of 2-8 MPa and with shearing rates of 5-10 μm/s. We show that above ~ 3 MPa load, acoustic emission (AE), and shear microfailure (microslip) precursors exhibit an exponential increase in rate of occurrence, culminating in stick-slip failure. Precursors take place where the material is in a critical state - still modestly dilating, yet while the macroscopic frictional strength is no longer increasing. Key Points Sheared granular media exhibits precursor events to stick-slip failure Rate of precursor activity increases exponentially prior to stick-slip failure Acoustic emission and microslip precursors are correlated in time

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5627-5631
Number of pages5
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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