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Authors: Tesei, Telemaco* 
Carpenter, Brett M.* 
Giorgetti, Carolina* 
Scuderi, Marco Maria* 
Sagy, Amir* 
Scarlato, Piergiorgio* 
Collettini, Cristiano* 
Title: Friction and scale-dependent deformation processes of large experimental carbonate faults
Journal: Journal of Structural Geology 
Series/Report no.: /100 (2017)
Issue Date: Jul-2017
DOI: 10.1016/j.jsg.2017.05.008
Abstract: We studied the frictional behaviour and deformation products of large (20 cm × 20 cm bare surfaces) experimental limestone faults. We sheared samples in a direct shear configuration, with an imposed normal force of 40–200 kN and shear velocity of 10 μm/s. The steady-state shearing of these surfaces yielded a coefficient of friction 0.7<μ<1 (average μ∼0.9), significantly higher than gouge friction of the same material, μ∼0.6. Frictional healing, studied via slide-hold-slide tests, is null (Δμ≤0 upon re-shear). Moreover, sliding of these surfaces is accompanied by dilatation and production of grooves, gouge striations and fault mirrors. These products are entirely analogous to slip surface phenomena found on natural limestone-bearing faults at both the macroscale and at the microscale. We infer that high friction, accompanied by dilatant deformation, and null frictional healing are the macroscopic effect of brittle damage on the sliding surface, constrained by the strength of the rock and by fast healing processes in the gouge. Simultaneously to brittle failure, plastic deformation occurs on the sliding surface and inside the intact rock via nanoparticle formation (mirrors) and twinning at the micron scale. Because of the similarity between experimental and natural structures, we suggest that sliding of carbonate-bearing faults in the uppermost crust could be characterized by high friction, fast healing and strongly dilatant deformation, which would help to explain shallow seismicity frequently documented in carbonatic terrains such as the Northern Apennines of Italy.
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