A rotary-shear low to high-velocity friction apparatus in Beijing to study rock friction at plate to seismic slip rates Academic Article uri icon


  • 2014, The Seismological Society of China, Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. This paper reviews 19 apparatuses having high-velocity capabilities, describes a rotary-shear low to high-velocity friction apparatus installed at Institute of Geology, China Earthquake Administration, and reports results from velocity-jump tests on Pingxi fault gouge to illustrate technical problems in conducting velocity-stepping tests at high velocities. The apparatus is capable of producing plate to seismic velocities (44mm/a to 2.1m/s for specimens of 40mm in diameter), using a 22kW servomotor with a gear/belt system having three velocity ranges. A speed range can be changed by 103 or 106 by using five electromagnetic clutches without stopping the motor. Two cam clutches allow fivefold velocity steps, and the motor speed can be increased from zero to 1,500rpm in 0.10.2s by changing the controlling voltage. A unique feature of the apparatus is a large specimen chamber where different specimen assemblies can be installed easily. In addition to a standard specimen assembly for friction experiments, two pressure vessels were made for pore pressures to 70MPa; one at room temperature and the other at temperatures to 500C. Velocity step tests are needed to see if the framework of rate-and-state friction is applicable or not at high velocities. We report results from velocity jump tests from 1.4mm/s to 1.4m/s on yellowish gouge from a Pingxi fault zone, located at the northeastern part of the Longmenshan fault system that caused the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. An instantaneous increase in friction followed by dramatic slip weakening was observed for the yellowish gouge with smooth sliding surfaces of host rock, but no instantaneous response was recognized for the same gouge with roughened sliding surfaces. Instantaneous and transient frictional properties upon velocity steps cannot be separated easily at high velocities, and technical improvements for velocity step tests are suggested.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Ma, S., Shimamoto, T., Yao, L. u., Togo, T., & Kitajima, H.

complete list of authors

  • Ma, Shengli||Shimamoto, Toshihiko||Yao, Lu||Togo, Tetsuhiro||Kitajima, Hiroko

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM