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Title: Constraints on the Physical Mechanism of Frictional Aging From Nanoindentation

The increase in the frictional strength of rocks with the time of quasi‐stationary contact, known as frictional aging, may ultimately determine whether unstable slip (i.e., earthquakes) can nucleate. In spite of its importance, the physical mechanism that underlies frictional aging in rocks is still uncertain. The widely held view is that aging results from an increase in contact area due to asperity creep. Here we show via nanoindentation testing that the hardness and creep rate of quartz are independent of relative humidity from <10−4% to 50%. This contrasts strongly with the standard interpretation of previous friction experiments on quartz tested over a similar humidity range, which reveal an absence of frictional aging for humidity <5%. Our results demonstrate that frictional aging in quartz cannot result from asperity creep and instead argue in favor of other mechanisms, including time‐dependent chemical bond formation or slip‐induced strengthening.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Geophysical Research Letters
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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