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Press Release 04-009

During Earthquakes, Mineral Gel May Reduce Rock Friction to Zero

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Scanning electron microscope image of novaculite

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of novaculite (a quartz-rich rock) sample after sliding at 3 mm/s. View is of the margin of a pit on the smooth sliding surface. The flat area in the lower left and bottom is a small portion of the gel-covered sliding surface. Wear debris are visible in the pit that occupies the upper right half of the image. The margin of the pit shows gel flow structures, two of which are shown by arrows, where the gel has been smeared into the pit. (Scale bar = 20 mm).

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF


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Research team

David Goldsby (foreground), Giulio Di Toro, Terry Tullis (sitting at computer) and Naoyuki Kato. Naoyuki was a visiting researcher in the Tullis laboratory for 2 years and now works at the Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo.

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF


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Powdered rock from experiments

Powdered rock from experiments as it sits in situ on top of rock samples after abrasion.

Credit: Giulio Di Toro, University of Padova, Italy; NSF


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Abrasion apparatus machine

For this image and the following two, these photos are of the machine and sample assembly that the researchers used for their experiments. In the closest photograph, powdered rock is visible around the sample edges.

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF


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abrasion apparatus machine

Another photo of the machine and sample assembly that the researchers used for their experiments. In the closest photograph, powdered rock is visible around the sample edges.

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF

 

Abrasion apparatus machine

Another photo of the machine and sample assembly that the researchers used for their experiments. In the closest photograph, powdered rock is visible around the sample edges.

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF

 

Terry Tullis with the abrasion apparatus

Terry Tullis of Brown University standing with the high-pressure abrasion apparatus used in earlier research, the same tool to which the researchers will attach the motorcycle engine to power higher speeds for future studies.

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF


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BMW motorcycle engine

The salvaged 100 horespower BMW motorcycle engine slated for a future in earthquake rupture mechanics.

Credit: Terry Tullis, Brown University; NSF


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