Shear banding and stick-slip instabilities have been long observed in sheared granular materials. Yet, their microscopic underpinnings, interdependencies, and variability under different loading conditions have not been fully explored. Here we use a nonequilibrium thermodynamics model, the Shear Transformation Zone theory, to investigate the dynamics of strain localization and its connection to stability of sliding in sheared, dry, granular materials. We consider frictional and frictionless grains as well as the presence and absence of acoustic vibrations. Our results suggest that at low and intermediate strain rates, persistent shear bands develop only in the absence of vibrations. Vibrations tend to fluidize the granular network and delocalize slip at these rates. Stick-slip is observed only for frictional grains, and it is confined to the shear band. At high strain rates, stick-slip disappears and the different systems exhibit similar stress-slip response. Changing the vibration intensity, duration or time of application alters the system response and may cause long-lasting rheological changes. We analyze these observations in terms of possible transitions between rate strengthening and rate weakening response facilitated by a competition between shear-induced dilation and vibration-induced compaction. We discuss the implications of our results on dynamic triggering, quiescence, and strength evolution in gouge-filled fault zones.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
- Statistics and Probability
- Condensed Matter Physics