Articles | Volume 10, issue 4
Solid Earth, 10, 1385–1395, 2019
Solid Earth, 10, 1385–1395, 2019

Research article 21 Aug 2019

Research article | 21 Aug 2019

What happens to fracture energy in brittle fracture? Revisiting the Griffith assumption

Timothy R. H. Davies et al.

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Cited articles

Abraham, F. F.: How fast can cracks move? A research adventure in materials failure using millions of atoms and big computers, Adv. Phys., 52, 727–790, 2003. 
Ball, A. and Payne, B. W.: The tensile fracture of quartz crystals, J. Mater. Sci., 11, 731–740, 1976. 
Barber, T. and Griffith, W. A.: Experimental constraints on dynamic fragmentation as a dissipative process during seismic slip, Phil. T. R. Soc. A, 375, 20160002,, 2017. 
Burnett, J. K.: Theory and Uses of Acoustic Emissions, Nova Science Publishers, Incorporated, 2011, ProQuest Ebook Central, available at: (last access: 8 March 2019), 2011. 
Carpinteri, A., Lacidogna, G., Manuello, A., Niccolini, G., Schiavi, A., and Agosto, A.: Mechanical and Electromagnetic Emissions Related to Stress-Induced Cracks, Exp. Techniques, 36, 53–64, 2012. 

The requested paper has a corresponding corrigendum published. Please read the corrigendum first before downloading the article.

Short summary
Griffith (1921) assumed that energy used to create new surface area by breaking intact rock immediately becomes surface energy which is not available for further breakage. Our lab data disprove this assumption; we created much more new surface area, 90 % on submicron fragments, than the energy involved should allow. As technology allows ever smaller fragments to be measured, continued use of the Griffith assumption will lead to incorrect energy budgets for earthquakes and rock avalanches.