On the micromechanics of slip events in sheared, fluid-saturated fault gouge

Omid Dorostkar, Robert A. Guyer, Paul A. Johnson, Chris Marone, Jan Carmeliet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We used a three-dimensional discrete element method coupled with computational fluid dynamics to study the poromechanical properties of dry and fluid-saturated granular fault gouge. The granular layer was sheared under dry conditions to establish a steady state condition of stick-slip dynamic failure, and then fluid was introduced to study its effect on subsequent failure events. The fluid-saturated case showed increased stick-slip recurrence time and larger slip events compared to the dry case. Particle motion induces fluid flow with local pressure variation, which in turn leads to high particle kinetic energy during slip due to increased drag forces from fluid on particles. The presence of fluid during the stick phase of loading promotes a more stable configuration evidenced by higher particle coordination number. Our coupled fluid-particle simulations provide grain-scale information that improves understanding of slip instabilities and illuminates details of phenomenological, macroscale observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6101-6108
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 28 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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