We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Earthquake nucleation on rough faults.

Harbord, Christopher W. A. and Nielsen, Stefan B. and De Paola, Nicola and Holdsworth, Robert E. (2017) 'Earthquake nucleation on rough faults.', Geology., 45 (10). pp. 931-934.


Earthquake nucleation is currently explained using rate and state stability analysis, which successfully models the behavior of laboratory simulated faults with constant thickness gouge layers. However, roughness is widely observed on natural faults and its influence on earthquake nucleation is little explored. Here we conduct frictional sliding experiments with different roughness on granite samples at upper crustal conditions (30–200 MPa). We observe a wide range of behaviors, from stable sliding to stick slip, depending on the combination of roughness parameters and normal stress. Stick slip is repeatedly observed in velocity-strengthening regimes, and increases in normal stress stabilize slip; these features are not fully predicted by current stability analysis. We derive a new instability criterion that matches our observations, based on fracture energy considerations and the size of weak patches created by fault roughness.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Download PDF
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF (Advance online version)
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF (Final published version)
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:© 2017 The Authors. Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.
Date accepted:28 June 2017
Date deposited:03 July 2017
Date of first online publication:08 August 2017
Date first made open access:09 August 2017

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar