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Dynamic weakening and amorphization in serpentinite during laboratory earthquakes

Brantut, N; Passelegue, FX; Deldicque, D; Rouzaud, J-N; Schubnel, A; (2016) Dynamic weakening and amorphization in serpentinite during laboratory earthquakes. GEOLOGY , 44 (8) pp. 607-610. 10.1130/G37932.1. Green open access

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Abstract

The mechanical properties of serpentinites are key factors in our understanding of the dynamics of earthquake ruptures in subduction zones, especially intermediate-depth earthquakes. Here, we performed shear rupture experiments on natural antigorite serpentinite, which showed that friction reaches near-zero values during spontaneous dynamic rupture propagation. Rapid coseismic slip (>1 m/s), although it occurs over short distances (<1 mm), induces significant overheating of microscale asperities along the sliding surface, sufficient to produce surface amorphization and likely some melting. Antigorite dehydration occurs in the fault walls, which leaves a partially amorphized material. The water generated potentially contributes to the production of a low-viscosity pressurized melt, explaining the near-zero dynamic friction levels observed in some events. The rapid and dramatic dynamic weakening in serpentinite might be a key process facilitating the propagation of earthquakes at intermediate depths in subduction zones.

Type: Article
Title: Dynamic weakening and amorphization in serpentinite during laboratory earthquakes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1130/G37932.1
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G37932.1
Language: English
Additional information: © The Authors. Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Physical Sciences, Geology, STICK-SLIP, TEMPERATURE, FAULTS
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1521308
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