Microscopic Evolution of Laboratory Volcanic Hybrid Earthquakes
Journal Article - Open Access
University of Texas at Arlington Arlington United States
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Characterizing the interaction between fluids and microscopic defects is one of the long-standing challenges in understanding a broad range of cracking processes, in part because they are so difficult to study experimentally. We address this issue by reexamining records of emitted acoustic phonon events during rock mechanics experiments under wet and dry conditions. The frequency spectrum of these events provides direct information regarding the state of the system. Such events are typically subdivided into high frequency HF and low frequency LF events, whereas intermediate Hybridevents, have HF onsets followed by LF ringing. At a larger scale in volcanic terranes, hybrid events are used empirically to predict eruptions, but their ambiguous physical origin limits their diagnostic use. By studying acoustic phonon emissions from individual microcracking events we show that the onset of a secondary instabilityrelated to the transition from HF to LFoccurs during the fast equilibration phase of the system, leading to sudden increase of fluid pressure in the process zone. As a result of this squeezing process, a secondary instability akin to the LF event occurs. This mechanism is consistent with observations of hybrid earthquakes.