pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 142, Issue 3–4, pp 777–794 | Cite as

The micromechanics of friction in a granular layer

  • Charles G. Sammis
  • Sandra J. Steacy
Frictional Slip, Failure, and Deformation Mechanics: Laboratory Studies


A grain bridge model is used to provide a physical interpretation of the rate- and state-dependent friction parameters for the simple shear of a granular layer. This model differs from the simpler asperity model in that it recognizes the difference between the fracture of a grain and the fracture of an adhesion between grains, and it explicitly accounts for dilation in the granular layer. The model provides an explanation for the observed differences in the friction of granular layers deformed between rough surfaces and those deformed between smooth surfaces and for the evolution of the friction parameters with displacement. The observed evolution from velocity strengthening to velocity weakening with displacement is interpreted as being due to the change in the micromechanics of strain accommodation from grain crushing to slip between adjacent grains; this change is associated with the observed evolution of a fractal grain structure.

Key words

Friction gouge stick-slip granular mechanics earthquake mechanics fragmentation cataclasis 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles G. Sammis
    • 1
  • Sandra J. Steacy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental StudiesUniversity of UlsterColeraineN. Ireland

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