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.  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. . Critical evolution of damage towards system-size failure in crystalline rock. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 123. https://doi.org/10.1002/2017JB014964
—Michele Cooke, Associate Editor, JGR: Solid Earth