This paper reviews rock friction and the frictional properties of earthquake faults. The basis for rate- and state-dependent friction laws is reviewed. The friction state variable is discussed, including its interpretation as a measure of average asperity contact time and porosity within granular fault gouge. Data are summarized showing that friction evolves even during truly stationary contact, and the connection between modern friction laws and the concept of “static” friction is discussed. Measurements of frictional healing, as evidenced by increasing static friction during quasistationary contact, are reviewed, as are their implications for fault healing. Shear localization in fault gouge is discussed, and the relationship between microstructures and friction is reviewed. These data indicate differences in the behavior of bare rock surfaces as compared to shear within granular fault gouge that can be attributed to dilation within fault gouge. Physical models for the characteristic friction distance are discussed and related to the problem of scaling this parameter to seismic faults. Earthquake afterslip, its relation to laboratory friction data, and the inverse correlation between afterslip and shallow coseismic slip are discussed in the context of a model for afterslip. Recent observations of the absence of afterslip are predicted by the model.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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