Natural and Experimental Evidence of Melt Lubrication of Faults During Earthquakes

+ See all authors and affiliations

Science  03 Feb 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5761, pp. 647-649
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121012

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text


Melt produced by friction during earthquakes may act either as a coseismic fault lubricant or as a viscous brake. Here we estimate the dynamic shear resistance (τf) in the presence of friction-induced melts from both exhumed faults and high-velocity (1.28 meters per second) frictional experiments. Exhumed faults within granitoids (tonalites) indicate low τf at 10 kilometers in depth. Friction experiments on tonalite samples show that τf depends weakly on normal stress. Extrapolation of experimental data yields τf values consistent with the field estimates and well below the Byerlee strength. We conclude that friction-induced melts can lubricate faults at intermediate crustal depths.

View Full Text