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Authors: Nielsen, S.* 
Taddeucci, J.* 
Vinciguerra, S.* 
Title: Experimental observation of stick-slip instability fronts
Issue Date: 2010
Series/Report no.: /180 (2010)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-246X.2009.0444.x
Keywords: Fractures and flow; friction; earthquake dynamics; Dynamics and mechanics of faulting
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.06. Rheology, friction, and structure of fault zones 
Abstract: Stick-slip dynamic instability is a key mechanism governing frictional processes from microscale physics to earthquake faults and landslides; yet challenging questions are stil open about its nucleation and propagation dynamics. We present novel observations on laboratory experimental faults where spontaneously nucleating fractures are produced, describing (1) an initial quasistatic, stable rupture front accelerating to subshear and then intersonic velocity; 2) the arisal of a higher degree of complexity when the friction to prestress ratio is increased on the sliding surface. The complex behaviour includes stop and go sequences, irregular proportion and rerupturing episodes within short-time intervals, implying rapid restrengthening of the surface and the formation of self-healing pulses, reproducing experimentally for the first time a behaviour observed on seismic faults.
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