Parallel 3-D simulation of a fault gouge using the Lattice Solid Model

Shane Latham*, Steffen Abe, Peter Mora

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the insight gained from 2-D particle models, and given that the dynamics of crustal faults occur in 3-D space, the question remains, how do the 3-D fault gouge dynamics differ from those in 2-D? Traditionally, 2-D modeling has been preferred over 3-D simulations because of the computational cost of solving 3-D problems. However, modern high performance computing architectures, combined with a parallel implementation of the Lattice Solid Model (LSM), provide the opportunity to explore 3-D fault micro-mechanics and to advance understanding of effective constitutive relations of fault gouge layers. In this paper, macroscopic friction values from 2-D and 3-D LSM simulations, performed on an SGI Altix 3700 super-cluster, are compared. Two rectangular elastic blocks of bonded particles, with a rough fault plane and separated by a region of randomly sized non-bonded gouge particles, are sheared in opposite directions by normally-loaded driving plates. The results demonstrate that the gouge particles in the 3-D models undergo significant out-of-plane motion during shear. The 3-D models also exhibit a higher mean macroscopic friction than the 2-D models for varying values of interparticle friction. 2-D LSM gouge models have previously been shown to exhibit accelerating energy release in simulated earthquake cycles, supporting the Critical Point hypothesis. The 3-D models are shown to also display accelerating energy release, and good fits of power law time-to-failure functions to the cumulative energy release are obtained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1949-1964
Number of pages16
JournalPure and Applied Geophysics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006
Externally publishedYes


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