Laboratory micro-seismic signature of shear faulting and fault slip in shale

posted Nov 29, 2017, 11:39 PM by IARP Admin   [ updated Nov 29, 2017, 11:39 PM ]

Authors: Joel Sarout, Yves Le Gonidec, Audrey Ougier-Simonin, Alexandre Schubnel, Yves Guéguen, David N. Dewhurst

Link to the Elsevier repossitory:


This article reports the results of a triaxial deformation experiment conducted on a transversely isotropic shale specimen. This specimen was instrumented with ultrasonic transducers to monitor the evolution of the micro-seismic activity induced by shear faulting (triaxial failure) and subsequent fault slip at two different rates. The strain data demonstrate the anisotropy of the mechanical (quasi-static) compliance of the shale; the P-wave velocity data demonstrate the anisotropy of the elastic (dynamic) compliance of the shale. The spatio-temporal evolution of the micro-seismic activity suggests the development of two distinct but overlapping shear faults, a feature similar to relay ramps observed in large-scale structural geology. The shear faulting of the shale specimen appears quasi-aseismic, at least in the 0.5 MHz range of sensitivity of the ultrasonic transducers used in the experiment. Concomitantly, the rate of micro-seismic activity is strongly correlated with the imposed slip rate and the evolution of the axial stress. The moment tensor inversion of the focal mechanism of the high quality micro-seismic events recorded suggests a transition from a non-shear dominated to a shear dominated micro-seismic activity when the rock evolves from initial failure to larger and faster slip along the fault. The frictional behaviour of the shear faults highlights the possible interactions between small asperities and slow slip of a velocity-strengthening fault, which could be considered as a realistic experimental analogue of natural observations of non-volcanic tremors and (very) low-frequency earthquakes triggered by slow slip events.

IARP Admin,
Nov 29, 2017, 11:39 PM