Articles | Volume 11, issue 6
Review article
13 Nov 2020
Review article |  | 13 Nov 2020

The physics of fault friction: insights from experiments on simulated gouges at low shearing velocities

Berend A. Verberne, Martijn P. A. van den Ende, Jianye Chen, André R. Niemeijer, and Christopher J. Spiers

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Subject area: Tectonic plate interactions, magma genesis, and lithosphere deformation at all scales | Editorial team: Structural geology and tectonics, paleoseismology, rock physics, experimental deformation | Discipline: Mineral and rock physics
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Cited articles

Aharonov, E. and Scholz, C. H.: A physics-based rock friction constitutive law: steady-state friction, J. Geophys. Res., 123, 1591–1614, 2018. 
Aharonov, E. and Scholz, C. H.: The brittle-ductile transition predicted by a physics-based friction law, J. Geophys. Res., 124, 2721–2737, 2019. 
Ampuero, J.-P. and Rubin, A. M.: Earthquake nucleation on rate and state faults - Aging and slip laws, J. Geophys. Res., 113, B01302,, 2008. 
Bakker, E., Hangx, S. J. T., Niemeijer, A. R., and Spiers. C. J.: Frictional behaviour and transport properties of simulated gouges derived from a natural CO2 reservoir, Int. J. Greenh. Gas Con. 54, 70–83, 2016. 
Barbot, S.: Slow-slip, slow earthquakes, period-two cycles, full and partial ruptures, and deterministic chaos in a single asperity fault, Tectonophysics, 768, 228171,, 2019. 
Short summary
The strength of fault rock plays a central role in determining the distribution of crustal seismicity. We review laboratory work on the physics of fault friction at low shearing velocities carried out at Utrecht University in the past 2 decades. Key mechanical data and post-mortem microstructures can be explained using a generalized, physically based model for the shear of gouge-filled faults. When implemented into numerical fault-slip codes, this offers new ways to simulate the seismic cycle.