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Self-Healing Slip Pulse on a Frictional Surface

Gilles Perrin, James R. Rice, & Gutuan Zheng

Published September 1995, SCEC Contribution #205

Guided by seismic observations of short-duration radiated pulses in earthquake ruptures, Heaton (1990) has postulated a mechanism for the frictional sliding of two identical elastic solids that consists in the subsonic propagation of a self-healing slip velocity pulse of finite duration along the interface. The same type of pulse may be conjectured for inhomogeneous slip along sufficiently large, and compliant, technological surfaces. We analyze such pulses, first as steady traveling waves which move at constant speed, and without alteration of shape, on the interface between joined elastic half-spaces, and later as transient disturbances along such an interface, arising as slip rupture propagates spontaneously from an over-stressed nucleation site. The study is conducted in the framework of antiplane elastodynamics; normal stress is uniform and alteration of it is not considered. We show that not all constitutive models allow for steady traveling wave pulses: the static friction threshold subsequent to the relocking of the fault must increase with time. That is, such solutions do not exist for pure velocity-dependent constitutive models, in which the stress-resisting slip on the ruptured surface is a continuously decreasing function of the instantaneous sliding rate (but not of its previous history or of other measures of the evolving state of the surface). Further, even for constitutive models that include both the rate- and state-dependence of friction, such as the laboratory-based constitutive models for friction as developed by Dieterich (1979, 1981) and Ruina (1983), steady pulse solutions do not exist for versions, like one discussed by Ruina (1983), which do not allow (rapid) restrengthening in truly stationary contact. For a particular class of rate- and state-dependent laws which includes such restrengthening, we establish parameter ranges for which steady pulse solutions exist, and use a numerical method stabilized by a Tikhonov-style regularization to construct the solutions. The numerical method used for the transient analysis adopts Fourier series representations for the spatial dependence of stress and slip along the interface, with the (time-dependent) coefficients in those Fourier series being related to one another in a way which obtains from exact solution to the equations of elastodynamics. This allows an efficient numerical method, based on use of the Fast Fourier Transform in each time step, with the frictional constitutive law enforced at the FFT sample points along the interface. Solutions based on a law that includes restrengthening in stationary contact show that spontaneous rupture propagation will occur either in the self-healing slip pulse mode (but not generally as a steady pulse) or in the classical enlarging-crack mode, depending on the values of parameters which enter the constitutive law. This analysis suggests that the strictly steady, traveling wave pulse solutions may either be unstable or have a limited basin of attraction.

Perrin, G., Rice, J. R., & Zheng, G. (1995). Self-Healing Slip Pulse on a Frictional Surface. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 43(9), 1461-1495. doi: 10.1016/0022-5096(95)00036-I.