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U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 77–142

Summary of Results of Frictional Sliding Studies, at Confining Pressures up to 6.98 Kb in Selected Rock Materials

By R. Summers and J. Byerlee

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (8.6 MB)Introduction

This report is a collection of stress-strain charts which were produced by deforming selected simuiated fault gouge materials.

Several sets of samples consisted of intact cylinders, 1.000 inch in diameter and 2.500 inches long. The majority of the samples consisted of thin layers of the selected sample material, inserted within a diagonal sawcut in a 1.000-inch by 2.500-inch Westerly Granite cylinder. Two sorts of inserts were used. The first consisted of thin wafers cut from 1.000-inch-diameter cores of the rock being tested. The other consisted of thin layers of crushed material packed onto the sawcut surface.

In several groups of tests using various thicknesses (0.010 inch to 0.160 inch) of a given type material there were variations in the stress level and/or stability of sliding as a function of the fault zone width. Because of this we elected to use a standard 0.025-inch width fault zone to compare the frictional properties of many of the different types of rock materials. This 0.025-inch thickness was chosen partially because this thickness of crushed granite behaves approximately the same as a fractured sample of initially intact granite, and also because this is near the lower limit at which we could cut intact wafers for those samples that were prepared from thin slices of rock.

One series of tests was done with saw cut granite cylinders without fault gouge inserts.

All of these tests were done in a hydraulically operated triaxial testing machine. The confining pressure (σ1, least principal stress) was applied by pumping petroleum ether into a pressure vessel. The differential stress (σ31) was applied by a hydraulically operated ram that could be advanced into the pressure vessel at any of several strain rates (10-4sec-1, 10-5sec-1, 10-6sec-1, 10-7sec-1, or 10-8sec-1). All samples were jacketed in polyurethane tubing to exclude the confining pressure medium from the samples. The majority of the samples, with the exception of some of the initially intact rocks, also had thin copper jackets. These served to hold the saw cut parts of the granite sample holders in alignment while the samples were handled and pushed into the polyurethane jackets.

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For additional information:
Contact Information, Earthquake Science Center, Menlo Park Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
345 Middlefield Road, MS 977
Menlo Park, California 94025

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Suggested citation:

Summers, R., and Byerlee, J., 1977, Summary of results of frictional sliding studies, at confining pressures up to 6.98 kb in selected rock materials: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 77-142, 129 p., available at



Summary of Experimental Conditions

Berea Sandstone





Ottawa Quartz Sand


Solenhofen Limestone


Westerly Granite

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