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Authors: Pozzi, Giacomo* 
Scuderi, Marco Maria* 
Tinti, Elisa* 
Nazzari, Manuela* 
Collettini, Cristiano* 
Title: The Role of Fault Rock Fabric in the Dynamics of Laboratory Faults
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 
Series/Report no.: 6/127 (2022)
Publisher: Wiley-AGU
Issue Date: 2022
DOI: 10.1029/2021JB023779
Abstract: Fault stability is inherently linked to the frictional and healing properties of fault rocks and associated fabrics. Their complex interaction controls how the stored elastic energy is dissipated, that is, through creep or seismic motion. In this work, we focus on the relevance of fault fabrics in controlling the reactivation and slip behavior of dolomite-anhydrite analog faults. We designed a set of laboratory experiments where we first develop fault rocks characterized by different grain size reduction and localization at normal stresses of σN = 15, 35, 60, and 100 MPa and second, we reload and reactivate these fault rocks at the frictional stability transition, achieved at σN = 35 MPa by reducing the machine stiffness. If normal stress is lowered this way, reactivation occurs with relatively large stress drops and large peak-slip velocities. Subsequent unstable behavior produces slow stick-slip events with low stress drop and with either asymmetric or Gaussian slip velocity function depending on the inherited fault fabric. If normal stress is raised, deformation is accommodated within angular cataclasites promoting stable slip. The integration of microstructural data (showing brittle reworking of preexisting textures) with mechanical data (documenting restrengthening and dilation upon reactivation) suggests that frictional and chemically assisted healing, which is common in natural faults during the interseismic phase, can be a relevant process in developing large instabilities. We also conclude that fault rock heterogeneity (fault fabric) modulates the slip velocity function and thus the dynamics of repeating stick-slip cycles.
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