Relaxation phenomena of electrical signal emissions from rock following application of abrupt mechanical stress

Dimos Triantis, Filippos Vallianatos, Ilias Stavrakas, George Hloupis


The emission of electrical signals during application of mechanical stress to brittle geo-materials (the so-called pressure-stimulated current; PSC) can provide significant information regarding the mechanical status of a studied rock sample. PSCs originate as a result of the opening of cracks and microfractures in rock. In this study, such electrical signal emissions are detected and studied when rock samples are subjected to step-wise mechanical stress, increased from low stress levels vL up to higher stress levels vH. This increase is performed at high stress rates and consequently the stress is maintained practically constant for a long period. During this time, the applied stress reaches its maximum value, and the emitted PSC decays gradually and relaxes back to a minimum value. The conducted experiments suggest that the characteristics of the relaxation processes of the PSC depend directly on the high level of the applied stress that is maintained constant after the application of each stress step. Analysis of the macroscopic parameters that characterize the relaxation phenomenon of the PSC provides clear information regarding the proximity of the applied stress to the fracture limit of the rock sample.


electric current relaxation phenomena, rock fracture, mechanical stress, PSC, amphibolite

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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN:  2037-416X