Application of Constitutive Friction Laws to Glacier Seismicity

L. K. Zoet, M. J. Ikari, R. B. Alley, C. Marone, S. Anandakrishnan, B. M. Carpenter, M. M. Scuderi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


While analysis of glacial seismicity continues to be a widely used method for interpreting glacial processes, the underlying mechanics controlling glacial stick-slip seismicity remain speculative. Here, we report on laboratory shear experiments of debris-laden ice slid over a bedrock asperity under carefully controlled conditions. By modifying the elastic loading stiffness, we generated the first laboratory icequakes. Our work represents the first comprehensive lab observations of unstable ice-slip events and replicates several seismological field observations of glacier slip, such as slip velocity, stress drop, and the relationship between stress drop and recurrence interval. We also observe that stick-slips initiate above a critical driving velocity and that stress drop magnitude decreases with further increases in velocity, consistent with friction theory and rock-on-rock friction laboratory experiments. Our results demonstrate that glacier slip behavior can be accurately predicted by the constitutive rate-and-state friction laws that were developed for rock friction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020GL088964
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 16 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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