Effect of boundary vibration on the frictional behavior of a dense sheared granular layer
We report results of 3D discrete element method simulations aiming at investigating the role of the boundary vibration in inducing frictional weakening in sheared granular layers. We study the role of different vibration amplitudes applied at various shear stress levels, for a granular layer in the stick-slip regime and in the steady-sliding regime. Results are reported in terms of friction drops and kinetic energy release associated with frictional weakening events. We find that a larger vibration amplitude induces larger frictional weakening events. The results show evidence of a threshold below which no induced frictional weakening takes place. Friction drop size is found to be dependent on the shear stress at the time of vibration. A significant increase in the ratio between the number of slipping contacts to the number of sticking contacts in the granular layer is observed for large vibration amplitudes. These vibration-induced contact rearrangements enhance particle mobilization and induce a friction drop and kinetic energy release. This observation provides some insight into the grain-scale mechanisms of frictional weakening by boundary vibration in a dense sheared granular layer. In addition to characterizing the basic physics of vibration-induced shear weakening, we are attempting to understand how a fault fails in the earth under seismic wave forcing. This is the well-known phenomenon of dynamic earthquake triggering. We believe that the granular physics are key to this understanding.
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