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The role of the chemical environment in frictional deformation: Stress corrosion cracking and comminution

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The roles of chemically assisted crack and fracture propagation and chemically assisted comminution in frictional deformation are evaluated in this study. Double cantilever beam (DCB) crack propagation data are presented which show that the role of pH in chemically assisted fracture, and to a lesser extent the role of ionic concentration are important in stress corrosion cracking. Data on very slow crack growth and the stress corrosion limit are also presented. These data suggest that stress corrosion cracking may play an important role in compound earthquakes and in asperity breakdown in faults. The comminution literature is also reviewed in order to assess the role of chemically assisted comminution in frictional deformation. It appears that chemically assisted comminution may be important at low and high ionic strength because it may reduce the effective viscosity and the shear strength of fault gouge. At intermediate ionic concentration the role of pH, as an agent which enhances crack and fracture propagation, appears to be more important in reducing the coefficient of sliding friction.

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Dunning, J., Douglas, B., Miller, M. et al. The role of the chemical environment in frictional deformation: Stress corrosion cracking and comminution. PAGEOPH 143, 151–178 (1994).

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Key words

  • Chemically assisted fracture
  • stress corrosion limit
  • subcritical crack propagation