Predicting time-to-failure in rock extrapolated from secondary creep

Sheng Wang Hao, Bao Ju Zhang, Ji Feng Tian, Derek Elsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Stress relaxation experiments are reported that culminate in energetic failure in rocks analogous to the loading cycle and subsequent localization or reactivation on brittle faults embedded in an elastic medium. Universally, rapid primary deformation arrests and transitions into a long secondary deformation phase that ultimately accelerates to catastrophic rupture. Primary deformation (u) conforms to Andrade's law as du/dt ∼ (tc - t 0)θ with a standard exponent of 2/3. In the long, and readily observable, secondary phase, the samples both deform and analogously shed load near linearly in time. This stress relaxation rate exhibits a robust power law dependency with time-to-rupture and exhibits the same 2/3 power law exponent observed in the primary phase. Similarly, the brittle strain energy released in the tertiary collapse scales with a normalized secondary stress relaxation rate. Together, these observations suggest a way to predict both the timing of rupture and its energetics from the observed stress (or strain) rate during the secondary relaxation stage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1942-1953
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting time-to-failure in rock extrapolated from secondary creep'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this