Research ArticleGEOPHYSICS

Stabilization of fault slip by fluid injection in the laboratory and in situ

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Science Advances  13 Mar 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 3, eaau4065
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau4065


Faults can slip seismically or aseismically depending on their hydromechanical properties, which can be measured in the laboratory. Here, we demonstrate that fault slip induced by fluid injection in a natural fault at the decametric scale is quantitatively consistent with fault slip and frictional properties measured in the laboratory. The increase in fluid pressure first induces accelerating aseismic creep and fault opening. As the fluid pressure increases further, friction becomes mainly rate strengthening, favoring aseismic slip. Our study reveals how coupling between fault slip and fluid flow promotes stable fault creep during fluid injection. Seismicity is most probably triggered indirectly by the fluid injection due to loading of nonpressurized fault patches by aseismic creep.

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