Modelling the mechanical structure of extreme shear ruptures with friction approaching zero generated in brittle materials


Experiments on frictional stick-slip instability in brittle materials and natural observations show that friction falls towards zero in the head of shear ruptures propagating with extreme velocities (up to supershear levels). Although essential for understanding earthquakes, fracture mechanics and tribology the question of what physical processes determine how weakening occurs is still unclear. Here, using a mathematical model, we demonstrate that the extremely low friction can be caused by a fan-like fault structure formed on the basis of a tensile-cracking process observed in all extreme ruptures. The mathematical model visualises and describes the fan-structure as a mechanical system during rupture propagation. It explains some features observed in laboratory experiments.

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The authors acknowledge the support provided by the Centre for Offshore Foundation Systems (COFS) at the University of Western Australia.

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Correspondence to Boris G. Tarasov.

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Tarasov, B.G., Guzev, M.A., Sadovskii, V.M. et al. Modelling the mechanical structure of extreme shear ruptures with friction approaching zero generated in brittle materials. Int J Fract 207, 87–97 (2017) doi:10.1007/s10704-017-0223-1

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  • Structure of shear rupture
  • Shear rupture mechanism
  • Shear ruptures of extreme dynamics
  • Low friction
  • Mathematical modelling

Mathematics Subject Classification

  • 86A15
  • 70K70
  • 65L05