Deformation of porous sandstone

Collapse of porosity or borehole failure is of great importance in porous reservoir sands. A range of porous sandstones have been characterized by mechanical testing under both hydrostatic and non-hydrostatic pressure with simultaneous pore volumometry. We have studied aspects of borehole failure and the applicability of critical state soil mechanics principles to the behaviour of these weak rocks (Rob Cuss, Ernie Rutter and Rob Holloway).

For more information contact: Ernie Rutter

Generation of wear debris below glaciers

Long term monitoring of suspended sediment production beneath the Findeln glacier (Zermatt, Switzerland) has been carried out. This can be compared with experiments in which we have measured the rate of frictional abrasive wear of rock on rock using contra-rotating wheels of various rock types. Sliding displacements of up to 25 km have been produced. Such wear, in which wear debris is removed by flowing water, produced substantially higher rates of abrasion than frictional wear on faults (Alex Lee (PhD graduate), Ernie Rutter, Rob Holloway, University of Manchester Alpine Glacier project).

For more information contact: Ernie Rutter

Pervasive mesofracture of rocks

The pervasive mesofracture of (particularly) carbonate rocks to produce breccias is well known in field studies but is a mystery from the rock mechanics point of view. Tony Lewis (PhD graduate) has studied the geometry of the development of such brecciation in Triassic carbonates of S. Spain and in the Italian Apennines. Attempts are being made to study this process in laboratory experiments under high pore fluid pressures (Ernie Rutter and Claire Glover (graduate student)).

For more information contact: Clare Glover or Ernie Rutter

Experimental rock mechanics

Studies of large fault zones

We have been studying the internal structure of large fault zones by means of field studies of the Carboneras fault zone in S.E. Spain and the Karakoram fault in the western Himalayas (Ernie Rutter and Dan Faulkner, in collaboration with Mike Searle and Richard Phillips (Oxford)). Of special interest has been the development of clay-bearing fault gouge and its permeability, and hence its ability to impound high pressure fluids in fault zones.

  • Faulkner, D. R., Lewis, A. C. & Rutter, E. H. 2003. On the internal structure and mechanics of large strike-slip fault zones: field observations of the Carboneras fault in southeastem Spain. Tectonophysics 367(3-4), 235-251.
  • Rutter,E.H., Faulkner, D.R. ,Brodie, K.H. , Phillips, R.J. and Searle, M.P. 2007 Rock deformation processes in the Karakoram fault zone, Eastern Karakoram, Ladakh, NW India Journal of Structural Geology, Volume 29(8), 1315-1326

For more information contact: Ernie Rutter

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