skip to main content

Title: Friction in Cold Ice Within Outer Solar System Satellites With Reference to Thermal Weakening at High Sliding Velocities

The icy shells of Enceladus and Europa consist from top down of cold (~100 K) ice at low (<0.1 MPa) pressure, cold ice at high pressure up to ~10 MPa, and warm ice near 273 K the base. The pressure ~10 MPa and temperature near 273 K of basal ice within Enceladus and Europa are similar to that within terrestrial glaciers that are known to have seismicity (icequakes). Warm ice easily melts during sliding so its icequakes are qualitatively explained and expected on these satellites if the macroscopic strain rates are comparable to those within terrestrial glaciers subjected to oceanic tides. However, cold ice at high pressures does not readily macroscopically melt during sliding. A dynamic weakening mechanism for crustal faults in rock may be applicable to Enceladus and Europa. Micron‐scale real contacts support ~0.4‐GPa shear tractions and normal tractions on rapidly sliding ice faults. At sliding velocities above ~0.1 m/s, the asperity tips of the contacts become hot and weak in ice. The macroscopic friction depends on the average strength of the asperity tips during the lifetimes of contact. The strength of the asperity tips self‐organizes so that frictional heating balances the heat lost from the asperity tip by conduction. The macroscopic coefficient of friction at coseismic sliding velocities decreases to a modest fraction of the low‐velocity coefficient of friction, but does not approach zero. This velocity‐weakening mechanism likely allows major icequakes within the cold interiors of Europa and Enceladus.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2397-2413
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Water ice Ih exhibits brittle behavior when rapidly loaded. Under tension, it fails via crack nucleation and propagation. Compressive failure is more complicated. Under low confinement, cracks slide and interact to form a frictional (Coulombic) fault. Under high confinement, frictional sliding is suppressed and adiabatic heating through crystallographic slip leads to the formation of a plastic fault. The coefficient of static friction increases with time under load, owing to creep of asperities in contact. The coefficient of kinetic (dynamic) friction, set by the ratio of asperity shear strength to hardness, increases with velocity at lower speeds and decreases at higher speeds as contacts melt through frictional heating. Microcracks, upon reaching a critical number density (which near the ductile-to-brittle transition is nearly constant above a certain strain rate), form a pathway for percolation. Additional work is needed on the effects of porosity and crack healing. ▪ An understanding of brittle failure is essential to better predict the integrity of the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice covers and the tectonic evolution of the icy crusts of Enceladus, Europa, and other extraterrestrial satellites. ▪ Fundamental to the brittle failure of ice is the initiation and propagation of microcracks, frictional sliding across crack faces, and localization of strain through both crack interaction and adiabatic heating. 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    The friction between two adjacent tectonic plates under shear loading may dictate seismic activities. To advance the understanding of mechanisms underlying fault strength, we investigate the frictional characteristics of calcite in an aqueous environment. By conducting single-asperity friction experiments using an atomic force microscope, here we show three pathways of energy dissipation with increasing contact stresses: viscous shear of a lubricious solution film at low normal stresses; shear-promoted thermally activated slip, similar to dry friction but influenced by the hydrated ions localized at the interface; and pressure-solution facilitated slip at sufficiently high stresses and slow sliding velocities, which leads to a prominent decrease in friction. It is also shown that the composition of the aqueous solution affects the frictional response. We use this nanoscale evidence to scrutinize the role of brines on fault behavior and argue that pressure solution provides a weakening mechanism of the fault strength at the level of single-asperity contacts.

    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    At seismic slip rates, flash‐weakening can significantly reduce the coefficient of friction, and the magnitude of weakening increases with surface temperature. To quantify the distribution of flash temperature, high‐speed double‐direct shear experiments were conducted on Westerly granite blocks using velocity steps from 1 mm/s to 900 mm/s at 9 MPa normal stress. We employed a high‐speed infrared camera to measure surface temperatures on the moving block during sliding, and utilized a novel sliding‐surface geometry to control the mm‐scale contact history. Following the initial weakening upon the velocity step, the blocks slide at a constant coefficient of friction. Surface temperatures are inhomogeneously distributed across the sliding surface, and increase with displacement. To determine the local normal stress distribution at the mm‐scale, we combine a one‐dimensional thermal model with conventional flash‐weakening models that incorporate a surface temperature‐dependence informed by the controlled, mm‐scale contact history. Early contacts experience local normal stress exceeding 40 times the applied normal stress. As sliding progresses, the local normal stress at the hottest contacts decreases as contact area increases, leading to local normal stresses ranging from 2 to 6 times the applied normal stress on most contacts by 30 mm of slip. Increases in surface temperature, which would decrease the coefficient of friction, are buffered by wear processes that increase contact area and decrease the local normal stress. Treatments of flash heating are advanced by incorporating improved characterization of the state of the sliding surface at the mm and larger scales during sliding.

    more » « less
  4. Basal slip along glaciers and ice streams can be significantly modified by external time-dependent forcing, although it is not clear why some systems are more sensitive to tidal stresses. We have conducted a series of laboratory experiments to explore the effect of time varying load point velocity on ice-on-rock friction. Varying the load point velocity induces shear stress forcing, making this an analogous simulation of aspects of ice stream tidal modulation. Ambient pressure, double-direct shear experiments were conducted in a cryogenic servo-controlled biaxial deformation apparatus at temperatures between −2°C and −16°C. In addition to a background, median velocity (1 and 10 μm/s), a sinusoidal velocity was applied to the central sliding sample over a range of periods and amplitudes. Normal stress was held constant over each run (0.1, 0.5 or 1 MPa) and the shear stress was measured. Over the range of parameters studied, the full spectrum of slip behavior from creeping to slow-slip to stick-slip was observed, similar to the diversity of sliding styles observed in Antarctic and Greenland ice streams. Under conditions in which the amplitude of oscillation is equal to the median velocity, significant healing occurs as velocity approaches zero, causing a high-amplitude change in friction. The amplitude of the event increases with increasing period (i.e. hold time). At high normal stress, velocity oscillations force an otherwise stable system to behave unstably, with consistently-timed events during every cycle. Rate-state friction parameters determined from velocity steps show that the ice-rock interface is velocity strengthening. A companion paper describes a method of analyzing the oscillatory data directly. Forward modeling of a sinusoidally-driven slider block, using rate-and-state dependent friction formulation and experimentally derived parameters, successfully predicts the experimental output in all but a few cases. 
    more » « less
  5. Although earthquakes are one of the most notorious natural disasters, a full understanding of the underlying mechanisms is still lacking. Here, nanoscale friction measurements were performed by atomic force microscopy (AFM) on calcite single crystals with an oxidized silicon tip to investigate the influence of roughness, contact aging, and dry vs. aqueous environment. In dry environments, smooth and rough calcite surfaces yielding single- and multiasperity contacts, respectively, exhibit velocity-weakening ( β D ln V ) or neutral friction at slow sliding velocities and velocity-strengthening friction ( α D ln V ) at higher velocities, while the transition shifts to slower velocities with an increase in roughness. The origin of the velocity-weakening friction is determined to be contact aging resulting from atomic attrition of the crystalline surface. Friction measurements in aqueous environment show evidence of pressure solution at sufficiently slow sliding velocities, which not only significantly reduces friction on single-and multiasperity contacts but also, eliminates atomic attrition and thereby, velocity-weakening friction. Importantly, the friction scaling law evolves from logarithmic ( β D ln V ) into linear ( α P S V ), deviating from commonly accepted rate-and-state friction (RSF) laws; this behavior extends over a wider range of velocities with higher roughness. Above a transition velocity, the scaling law remains logarithmic ( α W ln V ). The friction rate parameters α D , β D , α P S , and α W decrease with load and depend on roughness in a nonmonotonic fashion, like the adhesion, suggesting the relevance of the contact area. The results also reveal that parameters and memory distance differ in dry and aqueous environments, with implications for the understanding of mechanisms underlying RSF laws and fault stability. 
    more » « less