PerspectivePlanetary Science

Weak Faults--Rotten Cores

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Science  09 Jan 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5655, pp. 181-182
DOI: 10.1126/science.1092491

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Earthquakes are triggered when crustal deformation produces displacements along fault zones. The rock in these zones is found to be weaker than adjacent material, but what are the mechanisms of this loss of strength? In his Perspective, Holdsworth discusses how recent studies of exposed ancient fault zones combined with laboratory analyses are revealing that rock properties at the grain scale can determine the large scale behavior of crustal deformation.