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  1. Abstract

    The evolution of fault friction during the interseismic period affects the mechanics of a future earthquake on the same fault patch. Frictional aging has been previously tied to time‐dependent contact area growth through observations made on rock analogs. However, our understanding of the processes that control frictional aging is limited and is dependent on experiments that explore only numerous mechanisms. We conduct slide‐hold‐slide experiments with a dual‐axis nanoindenter on single‐crystal surfaces of quartz and calcite. Our results show that frictional aging in diamond‐quartz contacts is independent of time and contact area, in stark contradiction to past experiments done on quartz‐quartz contacts in rocks. Diamond‐calcite contacts show modest frictional aging, but still well below previous reported values from calcite‐calcite contacts. These results suggest that frictional aging of like‐on‐like minerals may be of chemical origin, as suggested in recent studies with atomic force microscopy and molecular dynamics simulations.

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  2. Abstract

    The effect of small concentrations of intracrystalline water on the strength of olivine is significant at asthenospheric temperatures but is poorly constrained at lower temperatures applicable to the shallow lithosphere. We examined the effect of water on the yield stress of olivine during low‐temperature plasticity using room‐temperature Berkovich nanoindentation. The presence of water in olivine (1,600 ppm H/Si) does not affect hardness or yield stress relative to dry olivine (≤40 ppm H/Si) outside of uncertainty but may slightly reduce Young’s modulus. Differences between water‐bearing and dry crystals in similar orientations were minor compared to differences between dry crystals in different orientations. These observations suggest water content does not affect the strength of olivine at low homologous temperatures. Thus, intracrystalline water does not play a role in olivine deformation at these temperatures, implying that water does not lead to weakening in the coldest portions of the mantle.

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  3. Abstract

    Rate‐ and state‐friction (RSF) is an empirical framework that describes the complex velocity‐, time‐, and slip‐dependent phenomena observed during frictional sliding of rocks and gouge in the laboratory. Despite its widespread use in earthquake nucleation and recurrence models, our understanding of RSF, particularly its time‐ and/or slip‐dependence, is still largely empirical, limiting our confidence in extrapolating laboratory behavior to the seismogenic zone. While many microphysical models have been proposed over the past few decades, none have explicitly incorporated the effects of strain hardening, anelasticity, or transient elastoplastic rheology. Here we present a new model of rock friction that incorporates these phenomena directly from the microphysical behavior of lattice dislocations. This model of rock friction exhibits the same logarithmic dependence on sliding velocity (strain rate) as RSF and displays a dependence on the internal backstress caused by long‐range interactions among geometrically necessary dislocations (GNDs). Changes in the backstress (internal stress) evolve exponentially with plastic strain of asperities and are dependent on both the current backstress and previous deformation, which give rise to phenomena consistent with interpretations of the “critical slip distance,” “memory effect,” and “evolution effect” of RSF. The rate dependence of friction in this model is primarily controlled by the evolution of backstress and temperature. We provide several analytical predictions for RSF‐like behavior and the “brittle‐ductile” transition based on microphysical mechanisms and measurable parameters such as the GND density and strain‐dependent hardening modulus.

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  4. Abstract. Viscous flow in ice is often described by the Glen flow law – anon-Newtonian, power-law relationship between stress and strain rate with astress exponent n ∼ 3. The Glen law is attributed tograin-size-insensitive dislocation creep; however, laboratory and fieldstudies demonstrate that deformation in ice can be strongly dependent ongrain size. This has led to the hypothesis that at sufficiently lowstresses, ice flow is controlled by grain boundary sliding, which explicitly incorporates the grain size dependence of ice rheology. Experimental studiesfind that neither dislocation creep (n ∼ 4) nor grain boundarysliding (n ∼ 1.8) have stress exponents that match the value ofn ∼ 3 in the Glen law. Thus, although the Glen law provides anapproximate description of ice flow in glaciers and ice sheets, itsfunctional form is not explained by a single deformation mechanism. Here weseek to understand the origin of the n ∼ 3 dependence of theGlen law by using the “wattmeter” to model grain size evolution in ice.The wattmeter posits that grain size is controlled by a balance between themechanical work required for grain growth and dynamic grain size reduction.Using the wattmeter, we calculate grain size evolution in two end-membercases: (1) a 1-D shear zone and (2) as a function of depth within anice sheet. Calculated grain sizes match both laboratory data and ice coreobservations for the interior of ice sheets. Finally, we show thatvariations in grain size with deformation conditions result in an effectivestress exponent intermediate between grain boundary sliding and dislocationcreep, which is consistent with a value of n = 3 ± 0.5 over the rangeof strain rates found in most natural systems. 
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  5. Constraints on the state of stress in the lithosphere are fundamental to understanding a breadth of geological phenomena. Paleo-stresses are generally estimated using microstructural elements for which there are experimentally calibrated relationships with applied stress, with an emphasis on recrystallised grain-size piezometers. However, it is often difficult to clearly distinguish newly recrystallised grains from the relict matrix. Furthermore, these grain-size piezometers are only applicable to rocks consisting of a single mineral. An alternative proxy for paleo-stress in polymineralic rocks is the average subgrain size. Unfortunately, estimates of subgrain size differ significantly among different measurement methods, and therefore, piezometers must be individually calibrated for the method used. Existing subgrain-size piezometers are based on calibrations using optical or transmission electron microscopy. We use electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD), a common method of subgrain-boundary characterisation, to calibrate subgrain-size piezometers for both olivine and quartz. To test the application of our olivine subgrain-size piezometer to polymineralic rocks, we deformed synthetic mixtures of olivine and orthopyroxene. Experiments were conducted using a Deformation-DIA apparatus at beamline 6BM-B Advanced Photon Source, Argonne National Laboratory. These experiments offer the unique possibility of simultaneously deforming the sample and measuring the average stresses within each phase using X-ray diffraction, before applying subgrain-size piezometry to the recovered samples. The results provide tests of (1) the manner in which stress is partitioned between phases, (2) whether the stresses measured in each phase by X-ray diffraction are comparable to those estimated by subgrain-size piezometry, and (3) whether stresses from subgrain piezometry can be used to estimate the macroscopic average applied stress. Stresses estimated from X-ray diffraction agree well with those made from subgrain-size piezometry in both monomineralic and polymineralic samples. In harzburgites, average stresses are similar in both phases and indicate that in this system, subgrain-size piezometric measurements from a single phase can be used to estimate the bulk stress. 
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  6. Abstract

    Plastic deformation of olivine at relatively low temperatures (i.e., low‐temperature plasticity) likely controls the strength of the lithospheric mantle in a variety of geodynamic contexts. Unfortunately, laboratory estimates of the strength of olivine deforming by low‐temperature plasticity vary considerably from study to study, limiting confidence in extrapolation to geological conditions. Here we present the results of deformation experiments on olivine single crystals and aggregates conducted in a deformation‐DIA at confining pressures of 5 to 9 GPa and temperatures of 298 to 1473 K. These results demonstrate that, under conditions in which low‐temperature plasticity is the dominant deformation mechanism, fine‐grained samples are stronger at yield than coarse‐grained samples, and the yield stress decreases with increasing temperature. All samples exhibited significant strain hardening until an approximately constant flow stress was reached. The magnitude of the increase in stress from the yield stress to the flow stress was independent of grain size and temperature. Cyclical loading experiments revealed a Bauschinger effect, wherein the initial yield strength is higher than the yield strength during subsequent cycles. Both strain hardening and the Bauschinger effect are interpreted to result from the development of back stresses associated with long‐range dislocation interactions. We calibrated a constitutive model based on these observations, and extrapolation of the model to geological conditions predicts that the strength of the lithosphere at yield is low compared to previous experimental predictions but increases significantly with increasing strain. Our results resolve apparent discrepancies in recent observational estimates of the strength of the oceanic lithosphere.

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