Instabilities at frictional interfaces: Creep patches, nucleation, and rupture fronts

Yohai Bar-Sinai*, Robert Spatschek, Efim A. Brener, Eran Bouchbinder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The strength and stability of frictional interfaces, ranging from tribological systems to earthquake faults, are intimately related to the underlying spatially extended dynamics. Here we provide a comprehensive theoretical account, both analytic and numeric, of spatiotemporal interfacial dynamics in a realistic rate-and-state friction model, featuring both velocity-weakening and velocity-strengthening behaviors. Slowly extending, loading-rate-dependent creep patches undergo a linear instability at a critical nucleation size, which is nearly independent of interfacial history, initial stress conditions, and velocity-strengthening friction. Nonlinear propagating rupture fronts - the outcome of instability - depend sensitively on the stress state and velocity-strengthening friction. Rupture fronts span a wide range of propagation velocities and are related to steady-state-front solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number060403
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 10 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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