Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!

Characterizing the distribution of temperature and normal stress on flash-heated granite surfaces at seismic slip rates

Monica R. Barbery, Frederick M. Chester, & Judith S. Chester

Published May 2021, SCEC Contribution #10819

At seismic slip rates, flash-weakening can significantly reduce the coefficient of friction, and the magnitude of weakening increases with surface temperature. To quantify the distribution of flash temperature, high-speed double-direct shear experiments were conducted on Westerly granite blocks using velocity steps from 1 mm/s to 900 mm/s at 9 MPa normal stress. We employed a high-speed infrared camera to measure surface temperatures on the moving block during sliding, and utilized a novel sliding-surface geometry to control the mm-scale contact history. Following the initial weakening upon the velocity step, the blocks slide at a constant coefficient of friction. Surface temperatures are inhomogeneously distributed across the sliding surface, and increase with displacement. To determine the local normal stress distribution at the mm-scale, we combine a one-dimensional thermal model with conventional flash-weakening models that incorporates a surface temperature-dependence informed by the controlled mm-scale contact history. Early contacts experience local normal stress exceeding 40 times the applied normal stress. As sliding progresses, the local normal stress at the hottest contacts decreases as contact area increases, leading to local normal stresses ranging from 2-6 times the applied normal stress on most contacts by 30 mm of slip. Increases in surface temperature, which would decrease the coefficient of friction, are buffered by wear processes that increase contact area and decrease the local normal stress. Treatments of flash heating are advanced by incorporating improved characterization of the state of the sliding surface at the mm and larger scales during sliding.

Barbery, M. R., Chester, F. M., & Chester, J. S. (2021). Characterizing the distribution of temperature and normal stress on flash-heated granite surfaces at seismic slip rates. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 126(5). https://doi.org/10.1029/2020JB021353