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Numerical modeling of heterogeneous asperity distributions controlling the growth of shear rupture on a frictional fault

  • Author(s): Selvadurai, PA
  • Parker, JM
  • Glaser, SD
  • et al.

Copyright 2016 ARMA, American Rock Mechanics Association. A better understanding of the strength distributions and the seismic response of asperities failing within a cohesive (or breakdown) region of the growing shear rupture is important in many engineering disciplines, such as, hydraulic fracture and induced seismicity. In the laboratory, a fault is experimentally modeled by a 400 mm × 80 mm × 12 mm PMMA slider sheared across a large PMMA base plate. A pressure-sensitive film was employed to localize and size, and measure normal stress upon contact junctions. Moments prior to rapid sliding, multiple discrete and localized dynamic events (or foreshocks) were observed at a section of the fault that exhibited a sparse to dense transition in asperity distribution. Experiments showed that foreshocks occurred as the crack (rupture front) moved into the resistive patch of densely distributed asperities. We use the results of pressure sensitive film asperity measurements to develop a heterogeneous finite element (FE) model that studies the effect of asperities within the cohesive region have on the expanding shear crack. Slip accumulated heterogeneously during the loading cycle due to the non-uniform distribution of asperities. We study the constitutive behavior of a frictional interface where local slip is determined by the asperities and their ability to communicate elastically. A foreshock (Mw ∼ -7.4) was simulated in a quasi-static manner by instantaneoulsy removing an asperity contact during the loading cycle. The foreshock increased shear stress perturbations to neighboring regions up to distances of ∼ 10 to 15 source radii.

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