Acta Seismologica Sinica

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 503–514 | Cite as

Comprehensive study on stability of deep crust and unstable behavior of earthquake source by both failure mechanism and frictional sliding mechanism

  • Chao Zhang
  • Lianwang Chen


In this paper the relation between fault movement and stress state in deep crust is discussed, based on synthetic analysis of the crustal stresses measured over the world and the concerned data of focal mechanism. Using Coulomb criterion for shear failure and frictional slip, analytical expressions for estimating stabilities of intact rock and existing fault in the crust and for identifying the type of faulting (normal, strike-slip or thrust fault) are derived. By defining the Failure FunctionF m and the Fraction FunctionF f, which may describe steadiness of crustal rock and existing fault, respectively, a synthetic model is set up to consider both fracturing mechanism and the sliding mechanism. By this model, a method to study stability and unstable behavior of crustal rock and fault at different depths is given.

According to the above model, quantitative study on the crustal stability in the North China plain is made in terms of the measured data of hydraulic fracturing stress, pore-fluid pressure, terrestrical heat flow in this region. The functionsF m andF f and the shear stresses on faults with different strike angle and dip angle at various depths in this region are calculated. In the calculation the constraint condition of fault movement obeys Byerlee’s Law, and the depth-dependent nonlinear change in the vertical stress due to inhomogeneity of crustal density and the high anomalous pore-fluid pressure in deep crust of this region are considered.

The conclusions are: the unstable behavior of the crust in the North China plain is not failure of crustal rock but slip on existing fault; the depth range where stick-slip of fault may happen is about from 8 to 20 km or more; stability of steep fault is lower than that of gentle sloping fault; the shear stresses in the range where may occur stick-slip are nearly horizontal; the steep faults trending from NNE to NE in this region are liable to produce strong earthquakes, whose co-seismic faultings are, for the most part, right lateral slip; the change in pore-fluid pressure in depth remarkably affects the stability of the crust and the increase in pore-fluid pressure, therefore, would be an important factor exciting strong earthquake in this region. The above theoretical inferences are consistent with the data measured in this region.

Key words

fracturing mechanism frictional sliding mechanism failure function friction function unstable behavior 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, E. M., 1951.The Dynamics of Fracture, 2nd ed., Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 206.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, E. T. and Hoek, E., 1978, Trends in relationships between measured in-situ stress and depth.Int. J. Rock Mech. Sci. Geomech. Abstr.,15, 211–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Byerlee, J., 1978. Friction of rocks.PAGEOPH 116, 615–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen, J. G., Cao, X. L. and Li, Z. Q., 1982. Stress measurements at depth in North China by hydraulic fracturing.Acta Seismologica Sinica,4, 350–360 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  5. Ding, J. M. and Liang, G. P., 1985. Stress measurement by hydraulic fracturing in Oil-Wells of North China,Acta Seismologica Sinica,7, 363–373.Google Scholar
  6. Edmond, J. M. and Patterson, M. S., 1972. Volume changes during the deformation of rocks at high pressure.Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci.,9, 161–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Evans, C. R., Mclvor, D. K. and Magara, K., 1975. Organic matter, compaction history and hydrocabon occurrence-Meckenzie Delta, Canada.Proceedings of the 9th World Petroleum Congress. 2, 149–157.Google Scholar
  8. Griggs, D. T., Turner, F. J., and Heard, H. C., 1960. Deformation of rock at 500°C to 800°C.Geol. Am. Memoir,79, 39–104.Google Scholar
  9. Group for the Compilation of “The Results of Depth Geophysical Exploration”, State Seismological Bureau, 1986.The Results of Crustal and Upper Mantle Geophysical Exploration in China. Seismological Press, Beijing, China, 407pp (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  10. Gao, J. L., Ding, J. M., Liang, G. P. and Guo, Q. L., 1987. Variation of crustal stress with depth in the basin of North China.Earthquake Research in China,3, 4, 82–89 (in Chinese with English abtract).Google Scholar
  11. Hubbet, M. and Rubey, W. W., 1959. Role of fluid pressure in mechanics of overthrust faulting.Bull. Geol. Soc. Amer.,70, 115–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haimson, B. C., 1978. The Hydrofracturing stress measuring method and recent field results.Int. J. Rock Mech. Min. Sci. Geomech. Abstr.,15, 167–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Haimson, B. C. and Rummel, F., 1982. Hydrofracturing stress measurements in IRDP drillhole at Reydrefjordur, Iceland,J. Geophys. Res.,87, B8, 6631–6649.Google Scholar
  14. Jaeger, J. C. and Cook, N. G. W., 1976.Fundamentals of rock mechanics, 2nd ed. Chapman and Hall, London, 585.Google Scholar
  15. Liang, G. P. Ding, J. M., 1987. The principles of electrical method for determination of orientation of hydrofracturing planes and the measured results from North China.Crustal Movements and Seismic Structure,1, 88–95 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  16. Ma, Z. J., Fu, Z. X., Zhang, Y. Z., Wang, C. M., Zhang, G. M. and Liu, D. F., 1982.Nine Major Earthquakes in China. Seismological Press, Beijing, China, 216 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  17. Price, N. J., 1966.Fault and joint development in brittle and semibrittle rock. Pergamon, London.Google Scholar
  18. Patterson, M. S., 1978.Experimental Rock Deformation—The Brittle Field. springer-verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, New York, 354pp.Google Scholar
  19. Sibson, R. H., 1977. Fault rocks and fault mechanics,J. Geol. Soc., London,133, 191–213.Google Scholar
  20. Sibson, R. H., 1974. Frictional constrains on thrust, wrench and normal faults,Nature, Phys. Sci.,249, 542–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sibson, R. H., 1982. Fault zone models, heat flow, and depth distribution of earthquakes in the continental crust of the United States.Bull. Seism. Soc. Amer.,72, 151–163.Google Scholar
  22. Stesky, R. M., Brace, W. F., Riley, D. K. and Robin, P. Y. F., 1974. Frication in faulted rock at high temperature and pressure.Tectonophysics,23, 177–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tullis, J. and Yund, R. A., 1977. Experimental deformation of dry Westerly granite.J. Geophys. Res.,82, 5705–5718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Wang, S. Z. and Zhang, L., 1982. Deformation and failure of Zhoukoudian granodiorite at the crustal temperature and pressure.Seismology and Geology,4, 4, 68 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  25. Wang, L. M., Zhang, Y. M. and Dong, R. S., 1982. Depth Extention of the Plain of North China and the Cenozoic graben of Bohai Sea as well as its relation with the activity of strong earthquakes.The Selected Treatises of the Symposium of the 2nd Academic Session of National Tectonic Geology. Geological Press, Beijing, China, 38–52 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  26. Yang, X. C., 1985. A Discussion on the regional pore pressure and the hydrodynamic features of Shahejie formations (ES) in Jiyang depression.Petroleum Exploration and Development,12, 13–20 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  27. Zhang, R. H., Xie, Z. W., Wu, J. X., Xie, Y. Z. and Liu, M., 1982. The distribution of heat flow values in Tangshan and its surroundings.Seismology and Geology,4, 4, 57–67 (in Chinese with English abstract).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Acta Seismologica Sinica 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chao Zhang
    • 1
  • Lianwang Chen
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Crustal DynamicsState Seismological BureauBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations