The Effects of Fluid Flow On Shear Localization and Frictional Strength From Dynamic Models Of Fault Gouge During Earthquakes



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This thesis explores the effects of fluid flow on shear localization and frictional strength of fault gouge through the use of a coupled 2-phase (pore fluid-grain) Finite Difference-Discrete Element Numerical model. The model simulates slip at earthquake velocities (~1m/s) in a fluid saturated gouge-filled fault. We find three types of shear behavior: (I) distributed shear, (II) random internal localization, and (III) boundary localization. Each shear type is dependent on the applied shear velocity, V, effective confining stress, N, and internal permeability, k. Through quantitative analysis of the positions and magnitude of localized shear bands, we show under which conditions the presence of and transitions between these shear types will occur. During shear, fluid pressure deviations, delta P, are generated by dilation and compaction cycles. The fluid effects on the system are more pronounced in simulations with higher V and lower N and k. Relative to the dry experiments, fluid saturated systems have an increased localization toward the boundaries of the gouge layer (type III), and no occurrence of distributed (type I) shear.

Systems with lower N and k show liquefaction events. Liquefaction events originate from increases in fluid pressure, delta P, around force chains between grains. Once delta P, the high pressures weaken the frictional forces between grains and destroy force chains. Shear then occurs at essentially zero friction until a new grain configuration recreates force chains. A reduction in mean friction is seen for systems with large liquefaction events (without inclusion of thermal pressurization), which could introduce a new mechanism in low friction faults. We also find that systems undergoing different types of shear will all trend toward type (III) shear following a liquefaction event.