Effective normal stress alteration due to pore pressure changes induced by dynamic slip propagation on a plane between dissimilar materials

John W. Rudnicki*, James R. Rice

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Recent, detailed examinations of fault zones show that walls of faults are often bordered by materials that are different from each other and from the more uniform material farther away. In addition, they show that the ultracataclastic core of mature fault zones, where slip is concentrated, is less permeable to flow across it than the adjoining material of the damage zone. Inhomogeneous slip at the interface between materials with different poroelastic properties and permeabilities causes a change in pore pressure there. Because slip causes compression on one side of the fault wall and extension on the other, the pore pressure on the fault increases substantially when the compressed side is significantly more permeable and decreases when, instead, the extended side is more permeable. This change in pore pressure alters the effective normal stress on the slip plane in a way that is analogous to the normal stress alteration in sliding between elastically dissimilar solids. The magnitude of the effect due to induced pore pressure can be comparable to or larger than that induced by sliding between elastic solids with a dissimilarity of properties consistent with seismic observations. The induced pore pressure effect is increased by increasing contrast in permeability, but the normal stress alteration due to elastic contrast increases rapidly as the rupture velocity approaches the generalized Rayleigh velocity. Because the alteration in effective normal stress due to either effect can be positive or negative, depending on the contrast in properties, the two effects can augment or offset each other.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberB10308
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 4 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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