pure and applied geophysics

, Volume 143, Issue 1–3, pp 359–385 | Cite as

Scaling of rock friction constitutive parameters: The effects of surface roughness and cumulative offset on friction of gabbro

  • Chris Marone
  • S. J. D. Cox
Rock Friction and Shear Zone Mechanics: Laboratory Studies


We describe experiments in which large (14×40 cm nominal contact area) blocks of gabbro were sheared in a direct shear apparatus at room temperature, 5 MPa normal stress, and slip velocities from 0.1 to 10 μm/s. The apparatus was servocontrolled using a displacement feedback measurement made directly between the gabbro blocks. Two surface roughnesses were studied (rough, produced by sandblasting, and smooth, produced by lapping with #60 grit) and accumulated displacements reached 60 mm. Measurements of surface topography were used to characterize roughness and asperity dimensions. Step changes in loading velocity were used to interrogate friction constitutive properties. Both rough and smooth surfaces showed appreciable displacement hardening. The coefficient of friction μ for rough surfaces was about 0.45 for initial slip and 0.7 after sliding 50 mm. Smooth surfaces exhibited higher μ and a greater tendency for unstable slip. The velocity dependence of frictiona−b and the characteristic friction distanceD c show systematic variations with accumulated displacement. For rough surfacesa−b started out positive and became negative after about 50 mm displacement andD c increased from 1 to 4 μm over the same interval. For smooth surfaces,a−b began negative and decreased slightly with displacement andD c was about 2 μm, independent of displacement. For displacements <30 mm, rough surfaces exhibit a second state variable with characteristic distance about 20 μm. The decrease ina−b with displacement is associated with disappearance of the second state variable. Our data indicate thatD c is controlled by surface roughness in a complex way, including but not limited to the effect of roughness on contact junction dimensions for bare rock surfaces. The data show that simple descriptions of roughness, such as rms and peak-to-trough, are not sufficient to inferD c . Our observations are consistent with a model in whichD c scales with gouge thickness.

Key words

Rock friction constitutive laws scaling characteristic friction distance 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris Marone
    • 1
  • S. J. D. Cox
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeU.S.A.
  2. 2.CSIRO Division of Exploration and MiningNedlands

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