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Authors: Rempe, Marieke* 
Smith, Steven* 
Mitchell, Thomas* 
Hirose, Takehiro* 
Di Toro, Giulio* 
Title: The effect of water on strain localization in calcite fault gouge sheared at seismic slip rates
Journal: Journal of Structural Geology 
Series/Report no.: /97 (2017)
Issue Date: 2017
DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2017.02.007
Abstract: Strain localization during coseismic slip in fault gouges is a critical mechanical process that has implications for understanding frictional heating, the earthquake energy budget and the evolution of fault rock microstructure. To assess the nature of strain localization during shearing of calcite fault gouges, high-velocity (vmax ¼ 1 m=s) rotary-shear experiments at normal stresses of 3e20 MPa were conducted under room-dry and wet conditions on synthetic calcite gouges containing dolomite gouge strain markers. When sheared at 1 m/s, the room-dry gouges showed a prolonged strengthening phase prior to dynamic weakening, whereas the wet gouges weakened nearly instantaneously. Microstructural analysis revealed that a thin (<600 mm) high-strain layer and through-going principal slip surface (PSS) developed after several centimeters of slip in both dry and wet gouges, and that strain localization at 1 m/s occurred progressively and rapidly. The strain accommodated in the bulk gouge layer did not change significantly with increasing displacement indicating that, once formed, the high-strain layer and PSS accommodated most of the displacement. Thus, a substantial strain gradient is present in the gouge layer. In water-dampened gouges, localization likely occurs during and after dynamic weakening. Our results suggest that natural fault zones in limestone are more prone to rapid dynamic weakening if water is present in the granular slipping zones.
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