Rupture speed dependence on initial stress profiles: Insights from glacier and laboratory stick-slip

Jacob I. Walter*, Ilya Svetlizky, Jay Fineberg, Emily E. Brodsky, Slawek Tulaczyk, C. Grace Barcheck, Sasha P. Carter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Slow slip events are now well-established in fault and glacier systems, though the processes controlling slow rupture remain poorly understood. The Whillans Ice Plain provides a window into these processes through bi-daily stick-slip seismic events that displace an ice mass over 100 km long with a variety of rupture speeds observed at a single location. We compare the glacier events with laboratory experiments that have analogous loading conditions. Both systems exhibit average rupture velocities that increase systematically with the pre-rupture stresses, with local rupture velocities exhibiting large variability that correlates well with local interfacial stresses. The slip events in both cases are not time-predictable, but clearly slip-predictable. Local pre-stress may control rupture behavior in a range of frictional failure events, including earthquakes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Authors.


  • Earthquake physics
  • Frictional stick-slip
  • Ice sheet motion
  • Ice streams
  • Slow slip


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