The sliding characteristics of sandstone on quartz fault-gouge

James T. Engelder, John M. Logan, John Handin

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Three types of triaxial compression experiments are used to characterize the frictional processes during sliding on quartz gouge. They are: 1) pre-cut Tennessee Sandstone sliding on an artificial layer of quartz gouge; 2) fractured Coconino Sandstone sliding along experimentally produced shear fractures; and 3) a fine-grained quartz aggregate deformed in compression. The specimens were deformed to 2.0 kb confining pressure at room temperature and displacement rates from 10-2 to 10-5 cm/sec dry and with water. There is a transition in sliding mode from stick-slip at confining pressures<0.7 kb to stable sliding at>0.7 kb. This transition is accompanied by a change from sliding at the sandstone-gouge contact (stick-slip) to riding on a layer of cataclastically flowing gouge (stable sliding). Quartz gouge between the pre-cut surfaces of Tennessee Sandstone lowers both the kinetic coefficient of friction and the magnitude of the stick-slip stress drops compared to those for a pre-cut surface alone. Stick-slip stress drops are preceded by stable sliding at displacements of 10-5 cm/sec. For a decrease in displacement rate between 10-3 and 10-5 cm/sec, stress-drops magnitudes increase from 25 to 50 bars. Tests on saturated quartz gouge show sufficient permeability to permit fluidpressure equilibrium within compacted gouge in 10 to 30 seconds; thus the principle of effective stress should hold for the fault zone with quartz gouge. Our results suggest that at effective confining pressures of less than 2.0 kb, if a fault zone contains quartz gouge, laboratory-type stick-slip can be an earthquake-source mechanism only if a planar sliding-surface develops, and then only when the effective confining pressure is less than 0.7 kb.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics PAGEOPH
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1975

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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