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  1. Abstract

    The frictional properties of faults control the initiation and propagation of earthquakes and the associated hazards. Although the ambient temperature and instantaneous slip velocity controls on friction in isobaric conditions are increasingly well understood, the role of normal stress on steady‐state and transient frictional behaviors remains elusive. The friction coefficient of rocks exhibits a strong dependence on normal stress at typical crustal depths. Furthermore, rapid changes in normal stress cause a direct effect on friction followed by an evolutionary response. Here, we derive a constitutive friction law that consistently explains the yield strength of rocks from atmospheric pressure to gigapascals while capturing the transient behavior following perturbations in normal stress. The model explains the frictional strength of a variety of sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks and the slip‐dependent response upon normal stress steps of Westerly granite bare contact and synthetic gouges made of quartz and a mixture of quartz and smectite. The nonlinear normal stress dependence of the frictional resistance may originate from the distribution of asperities that control the real area of contact. The direct and transient effects may be important for induced seismicity by hydraulic fracturing or for naturally occurring normal stress perturbations within fault zones in the brittle crust.

     
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  2. Abstract The collision between India and Eurasia mobilizes multiple processes of continental tectonics. However, how deformation develops within the lithosphere across the Tibetan Plateau is still poorly known and a synoptic view is missing. Here, we exploit an extensive geodetic observatory to resolve the kinematics of this diffuse plate boundary and the arrangement of various mechanisms down to upper-mantle depths. The three-dimensional velocity field is compatible with continental underthrusting below the central Himalayas and with delamination rollback below the western syntaxis. The rise of the Tibetan Plateau occurs by shortening in the Indian and Asian crusts at its southern and northwestern margins. The subsidence of Central Tibet is associated with lateral extrusion and attendant lithospheric thinning aided by the downwelling current from the opposite-facing Indian and Asian collisions. The current kinematics of the Indian-Eurasian collision may reflect the differential evolution of the inner and outer Tibetan Plateau during the late Cenozoic. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  3. Abstract

    Establishing a constitutive law for fault friction is a crucial objective of earthquake science. However, the complex frictional behavior of natural and synthetic gouges in laboratory experiments eludes explanations. Here, we present a constitutive framework that elucidates the rate, state, and temperature dependence of fault friction under the relevant sliding velocities and temperatures of the brittle lithosphere during seismic cycles. The competition between healing mechanisms, such as viscoelastic collapse, pressure‐solution creep, and crack sealing, explains the low‐temperature stability transition from steady‐state velocity‐strengthening to velocity‐weakening as a function of slip‐rate and temperature. In addition, capturing the transition from cataclastic flow to semi‐brittle creep accounts for the stabilization of fault slip at elevated temperatures. We calibrate the model using extensive laboratory data on synthetic albite and granite gouge, and on natural samples from the Alpine Fault and the Mugi Mélange in the Shimanto accretionary complex in Japan. The constitutive model consistently explains the evolving frictional response of fault gouge from room temperature to 600°C for sliding velocities ranging from nanometers to millimeters per second. The frictional response of faults can be uniquely determined by the in situ lithology and the prevailing hydrothermal conditions.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The bottom of the lithosphere is characterized by a thermally controlled transition from brittle to ductile deformation. While the mechanical behavior of rocks firmly within the brittle and ductile regimes is relatively well understood, how the transition operates remains elusive. Here, we study the mechanical properties of pure olivine gouge from 100 to 500°C under 100 MPa pore‐fluid pressure in a triaxial deformation apparatus as a proxy for the mechanical properties of the upper mantle across the brittle‐ductile transition. We describe the mechanical data with a rate‐, state‐, and temperature‐dependent constitutive law with multiple thermally activated deformation mechanisms. The stress power exponents decrease from 70 ± 10 in the brittle regime to 17 ± 3 and 4 ± 2 in the semi‐brittle and ductile regimes, respectively. The mechanical model consistently explains the mechanical behavior of olivine gouge across the brittle‐ductile transition, capturing the gradual evolution from cataclasis to crystal plasticity.

     
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  5. On February 6, 2023, two large earthquakes occurred near the Turkish town of Kahramanmaraş. The moment magnitude (Mw) 7.8 mainshock ruptured a 310 km-long segment of the left-lateral East Anatolian Fault, propagating through multiple releasing step-overs. The Mw 7.6 aftershock involved nearby left-lateral strike-slip faults of the East Anatolian Fault Zone, causing a 150 km-long rupture. We use remote-sensing observations to constrain the spatial distribution of coseismic slip for these two events and the February 20 Mw 6.4 aftershock near Antakya. Pixel tracking of optical and synthetic aperture radar data of the Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-1 satellites, respectively, provide near-field surface displacements. High-rate Global Navigation Satellite System data constrain each event separately. Coseismic slip extends from the surface to about 15 km depth with a shallow slip deficit. Most aftershocks cluster at major fault bends, surround the regions of high coseismic slip, or extend outward of the ruptured faults. For the mainshock, rupture propagation stopped southward at the diffuse termination of the East Anatolian fault and tapered off northward into the Pütürge segment, some 20 km south of the 2020 Mw 6.8 Elaziğ earthquake, highlighting a potential seismic gap. These events underscore the high seismic potential of immature fault systems. 
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  6. Abstract

    The constitutive behavior of faults is central to many interconnected aspects of earthquake science, from fault dynamics to induced seismicity, to seismic hazards characterization. Yet, a friction law applicable to the range of temperatures found in the brittle crust and upper mantle is still missing. In particular, rocks often exhibit a transition from steady‐state velocity‐strengthening at room temperature to velocity‐weakening in warmer conditions that is poorly understood. Here, we investigate the effect of competing healing mechanisms on the evolution of frictional resistance in a physical model of rate‐, state‐, and temperature‐dependent friction. The yield strength for fault slip depends on the real area of contact, which is modulated by the competition between the growth and erosion of interfacial micro‐asperities. Incorporating multiple healing mechanisms and rock‐forming minerals with different thermodynamic properties allows a transition of the velocity‐ and temperature‐dependence of friction at steady‐state with varying temperatures. We explain the mechanical data for granite, pyroxene, amphibole, shale, and natural fault gouges with activation energies and stress power exponent for weakening of 10–50 kJ/mol and 55–150, respectively, compatible with subcritical crack growth and inter‐granular flow in the active slip zone. Activation energies for the time‐dependent healing process in the range 90–130 kJ/mol in dry conditions and 20–65 kJ/mol in wet conditions indicate the prominence of viscoelastic collapse of microasperities in the absence of water and of pressure‐solution creep, crack healing, and cementation when assisted by pore fluids.

     
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  7. Abstract The rheology of the upper mantle impacts a variety of geodynamic processes, including postseismic deformation following great earthquakes and post-glacial rebound. The deformation of upper mantle rocks is controlled by the rheology of olivine, the most abundant upper mantle mineral. The mechanical properties of olivine at steady state are well constrained. However, the physical mechanism underlying transient creep, an evolutionary, hardening phase converging to steady state asymptotically, is still poorly understood. Here, we constrain a constitutive framework that captures transient creep and steady state creep consistently using the mechanical data from laboratory experiments on natural dunites containing at least 94% olivine under both hydrous and anhydrous conditions. The constitutive framework represents a Burgers assembly with a thermally activated nonlinear stress-versus-strain-rate relationship for the dashpots. Work hardening is obtained by the evolution of a state variable that represents internal stress. We determine the flow law parameters for dunites using a Markov chain Monte Carlo method. We find the activation energy $$430\pm 20$$ 430 ± 20   and $$250\pm 10$$ 250 ± 10  kJ/mol for dry and wet conditions, respectively, and the stress exponent $$2.0\pm 0.1$$ 2.0 ± 0.1 for both the dry and wet cases for transient creep, consistently lower than those of steady-state creep, suggesting a separate physical mechanism. For wet dunites in the grain-boundary sliding regime, the grain-size dependence is similar for transient creep and steady-state creep. The lower activation energy of transient creep could be due to a higher jog density of the corresponding soft-slip system. More experimental data are required to estimate the activation volume and water content exponent of transient creep. The constitutive relation used and its associated flow law parameters provide useful constraints for geodynamics applications. Graphical Abstract 
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