Geotribology - Friction, wear, and lubrication of faults

Yuval Boneh, Ze'ev Reches

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

We introduce here the concept of Geotribology as an approach to study friction, wear, and lubrication of geological systems. Methods of geotribology are applied here to characterize the friction and wear associated with slip along experimental faults composed of brittle rocks. The wear in these faults is dominated by brittle fracturing, plucking, scratching and fragmentation at asperities of all scales, including ‘effective asperities’ that develop and evolve during the slip. We derived a theoretical model for the rate of wear based on the observation that the dynamic strength of brittle materials is proportional to the product of load stress and loading period. In a slipping fault, the loading period of an asperity is inversely proportional to the slip velocity, and our derivations indicate that the wear-rate is proportional to the ratio of [shear-stress/slip-velocity]. By incorporating the rock hardness data into the model, we demonstrate that a single, universal function fits wear data of hundreds of experiments with granitic, carbonate and sandstone faults. In the next step, we demonstrate that the dynamic frictional strength of experimental faults is well explained in terms of the tribological parameter PV factor (= normal-stress · slip-velocity). This factor successfully delineates weakening and strengthening regimes of carbonate and granitic faults. Finally, our analysis revealed a puzzling observation that wear-rate and frictional strength have strikingly different dependencies on the loading conditions of normal-stress and slip-velocity; we discuss sources for this difference. We found that utilization of tribological tools in fault slip analyses leads to effective and insightful results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
JournalTectonophysics
Volume733
DOIs
StatePublished - 9 May 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fault gouge
  • Friction
  • Geotribology
  • Lubrication
  • Wear

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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