Fault Wear by Damage Evolution During Steady-State Slip

Vladimir Lyakhovsky, Amir Sagy, Yuval Boneh, Ze’ev Reches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Slip along faults generates wear products such as gouge layers and cataclasite zones that range in thickness from sub-millimeter to tens of meters. The properties of these zones apparently control fault strength and slip stability. Here we present a new model of wear in a three-body configuration that utilizes the damage rheology approach and considers the process as a microfracturing or damage front propagating from the gouge zone into the solid rock. The derivations for steady-state conditions lead to a scaling relation for the damage front velocity considered as the wear-rate. The model predicts that the wear-rate is a function of the shear-stress and may vanish when the shear-stress drops below the microfracturing strength of the fault host rock. The simulated results successfully fit the measured friction and wear during shear experiments along faults made of carbonate and tonalite. The model is also valid for relatively large confining pressures, small damage-induced change of the bulk modulus and significant degradation of the shear modulus, which are assumed for seismogenic zones of earthquake faults. The presented formulation indicates that wear dynamics in brittle materials in general and in natural faults in particular can be understood by the concept of a “propagating damage front” and the evolution of a third-body layer.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3143-3157
Number of pages15
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number11
StatePublished - 6 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Damage rheology
  • Fault wear
  • Friction
  • Wear-rate

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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