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Mitchell, EK, Fialko Y, Brown KM.  2015.  Frictional properties of gabbro at conditions corresponding to slow slip events in subduction zones. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 16:4006-4020.   10.1002/2015gc006093   AbstractWebsite

We conducted a series of experiments to explore the rate and state frictional properties of gabbro at conditions thought to be representative of slow slip events (SSEs) in subduction zones. The experiments were conducted using a heated direct shear apparatus. We tested both solid and simulated gouge samples at low effective normal stress (5-30 MPa) over a broad range of temperatures (20-600 degrees C) under dry and hydrated conditions. In tests performed on dry solid samples, we observed stable sliding at low temperatures (20-150 degrees C), stick slip at high temperatures (350-600 degrees C), and a transitional "episodic slow slip'' behavior at intermediate temperatures (200-300 degrees C). In tests performed on dry gouge samples, we observed stable sliding at all temperatures. Under hydrated conditions, the gouge samples exhibited episodic slow slip and stick-slip behavior at temperatures between 300 and 500 degrees C. Our results show a decrease in the rate parameter (a - b) with temperature for both solid and gouge samples; friction transitions from velocity strengthening to velocity weakening at temperature of about 150 degrees C for both solid and gouge samples. We do not observe transition to velocity-strengthening friction at the high end of the tested temperature range. Our results suggest that the occurrence of slow slip events and the downdip limit of the seismogenic zone on subduction megathrusts cannot be solely explained by the temperature dependence of frictional properties of gabbro. Further experimental studies are needed to evaluate the effects of water fugacity and compositional heterogeneity (e. g., the presence of phyllosilicates) on frictional stability of subduction megathrusts.

Mitchell, EK, Fialko Y, Brown KM.  2016.  Velocity-weakening behavior of Westerly granite at temperature up to 600 degrees C. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 121:6932-6946.   10.1002/2016jb013081   AbstractWebsite

The deep limit to seismicity in continental crust is believed to be controlled by a transition from velocity-weakening to velocity-strengthening friction based on experimental measurements of the rate dependence of friction at different temperatures. Available experimental data on granite suggest a transition to stable creep at about 350 degrees C (approximate to 15km depth). Here we present results from unconfined experiments on Westerly granite at both dry and hydrated conditions that show increasingly unstable slip (velocity-weakening behavior) at temperature up to 600 degrees C. A comparison of previously published experimental results with those presented in this study suggests that the rate and state friction parameters strongly depend on normal stress and pore pressure at high (>400 degrees C) temperature, which may help explain regional variations in the depth distribution of earthquakes in continental crust. Temperature dependence of the rate and state friction parameters may also contribute to strong dynamic weakening observed in high-speed friction experiments on crystalline rocks such as granite and gabbro.

Mitchell, EK, Fialko Y, Brown KM.  2013.  Temperature dependence of frictional healing of Westerly granite: Experimental observations and numerical simulations. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 14:567-582.   10.1029/2012gc004241   AbstractWebsite

Temperature is believed to have an important control on frictional properties of rocks, yet the amount of experimental observations of time-dependent rock friction at high temperatures is rather limited. In this study, we investigated frictional healing of Westerly granite in a series of slide-hold-slide experiments using a direct shear apparatus at ambient temperatures between 20 degrees C and 550 degrees C. We observed that at room temperature coefficient of friction increases in proportion to the logarithm of hold time at a rate consistent with findings of previous studies. For a given hold time, the coefficient of friction linearly increases with temperature, but temperature has little effect on the rate of change in static friction with hold time. We used a numerical model to investigate whether time-dependent increases in real contact area between rough surfaces could account for the observed frictional healing. The model incorporates fractal geometry and temperature-dependent viscoelasoplastic rheology. We explored several candidate rheologies that have been proposed for steady state creep of rocks at high stresses and temperatures. None of the tested laws could provide an agreement between the observed and modeled healing behavior given material properties reported in the bulk creep experiments. An acceptable fit to the experimental data could be achieved with modified parameters. In particular, for the power-law rheology to provide a reasonable fit to the data, the stress exponent needs to be greater than 40. Alternative mechanisms include time-dependent gouge compaction and increases in bond strength between contacting asperities.

McHone, G, Anderson D, Beutel E, Fialko Y.  2005.  Giant dikes, rifts, flood basalts, and plate tectonics: A contention of mantle models. GSA Special Papers. 388:401-420.   10.1130/0-8137-2388-4.401   Abstract

Giant dike swarms, often hundreds of kilometers long, have produced flood basalts in large igneous provinces since the early Proterozoic. Dike patterns described as radiating from a central source are actually syntectonic swarms that curve and diverge according to lithospheric stress regimes, but they are similar in origin to smaller swarms with parallel dikes. Giant radiating patterns of dikes do not characterize most hotspots or large igneous provinces, and they are not always linked to crustal uplift swells. These mafic intrusions and the fractures they follow are essentially features of plate tectonics, not products of indeterminable deep mantle plumes. As a compelling example, the Early Jurassic central Atlantic magmatic province and its associated Pangaean rift zone are evidential products of subducted materials and convection in the upper mantle beneath the insulating Pangaean plate. Giant dike swarms were formed along lithospheric structures through plate tectonics, not by a coincidental deep mantle plume.

Manzo, M, Fialko Y, Casu F, Pepe A, Lanari R.  2012.  A quantitative assessment of DInSAR measurements of interseismic deformation: the Southern San Andreas Fault case study. Pure and Appl. Geophys.. 169(8):1463-1482.   10.1007/s00024-011-0403-2   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the capabilities and limitations of the Differential Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (DInSAR) techniques, in particular of the Small BAseline Subset (SBAS) approach, to measure surface deformation in active seismogenetic areas. The DInSAR analysis of low-amplitude, long-wavelength deformation, such as that due to interseismic strain accumulation, is limited by intrinsic trade-offs between deformation signals and orbital uncertainties of SAR platforms in their contributions to the interferometric phases, the latter being typically well approximated by phase ramps. Such trade-offs can be substantially reduced by employing auxiliary measurements of the long-wavelength velocity field. We use continuous Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements from a properly distributed set of stations to perform a pre-filtering operation of the available DInSAR interferograms. In particular, the GPS measurements are used to estimate the secular velocity signal, approximated by a spatial ramp within the azimuth-range radar imaging plane; the phase ramps derived from the GPS data are then subtracted from the available set of DInSAR interferograms. This pre-filtering step allows us to compensate for the major component of the long-wavelength range change that, within the SBAS procedure, might be wrongly interpreted and filtered out as orbital phase ramps. With this correction, the final results are obtained by simply adding the pre-filtered long-wavelength deformation signal to the SBAS retrieved time series. The proposed approach has been applied to a set of ERS-1/2 SAR data acquired during the 1992–2006 time interval over a 200 × 200 km area around the Coachella Valley section of the San Andreas Fault in Southern California, USA. We present results of the comparison between the SBAS and the Line Of Sight (LOS)—projected GPS time series of the USGC/PBO network, as well as the mean LOS velocity fields derived using SBAS, GPS and stacking techniques. Our analysis demonstrates the effectiveness of the presented approach and provides a quantitative assessment of the accuracy of DInSAR measurements of interseismic deformation in a tectonically active area.