Velocity-dependent frictional weakening of large rock avalanche basal facies: Implications for rock avalanche hypermobility?

Y. F. Wang, J. J. Dong, Q. G. Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

To characterize the hypermobility mechanism of rock avalanches, a series of rotary shear tests at different shearing velocities (Veq) ranging from 0.07 m/s to 1.31 m/s and at a normal stress of 1.47 MPa were carried out on soil sampled from the basal facies of the Yigong rock avalanche that occurred in the Tibetan plateau in China. Through conducting these tests, the macroscale and microscale features of the deformed samples were analyzed in detail with the following valuable conclusions being reached: (1) soil subjected to rotary shear exhibits a clear velocity-dependent weakening characteristic with an apparent steady state friction of 0.13 being reached at Veq ≥ 0.61 m/s, (2) high-temperature rises and layers with high porosity were observed in the samples sheared at Veq ≥ 0.61 m/s, and (3) the cooperation of thermal pressurization and moisture fluidization induced by friction heating plays an important role in explaining the marked frictional weakening of the soil. In addition, the appearance of nanoparticles due to particle fragmentation should facilitate the weakening of the soil but is not the key reason for the marked frictional weakening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1648-1676
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume122
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • avalanche dynamics
  • basal facies
  • shearing behavior
  • velocity-dependent frictional weakening
  • Yigong rock avalanche

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