Three-dimensional microcracks (blue) imaged at stages just before failure of the specimen. The host rock is made transparent. As the differential stress increases from 236 to 253 MPa, the microcracks grow and damage evolves in the specimen until failure at 253 MPa. Credit: Renard et al., 2018, Figure 3a
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth

The evolution of micro-scale fracturing that leads to the failure of rock is the critical process that controls faulting and earthquake behavior. Our understanding of this fault nucleation process has been limited by both incredibly complicated stress distributions and deformation states that are difficult to monitor. Renard et al. [2018] utilize an innovative technique to track the three-dimensional evolution of micro-scale damage within samples as they fail. This work demonstrates how quantitative damage data can inform fault nucleation process. Such studies have the power to transform our understanding of how faults and earthquakes nucleate.

Citation: Renard, F., Weiss, J., Mathiesen, J., Zion, Y. B., Kandula, N. & Cordonnier, B. [2018]. Critical evolution of damage towards system-size failure in crystalline rock. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123.

—Michele Cooke, Associate Editor, JGR: Solid Earth

Text © 2018. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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