Researchers in a new study has shown the fact that little knowledge regarding the relationship of water, friction and mineral chemistry could lead to better understanding of the origin of the earthquakes. Engineers belonging to the University of Illinois for the Urbana-campaign took help of the microscopic friction measurements to be convinced of the fact that given the right conditions, some of the rocks may get dissolved and may cause faults to slip.

The study that has been published in the journal known as Nature Communication, it has been specified that in what way, water and calcite, which is a mineral widespread within Earth’s crust, combine with each other t various pressures and groundwater compositions to pose an impact along the faults. According to Rosa Espinosa-Marzal who is a civil and environmental engineering professor said that water is everywhere in these systems. Continuing her statement, she said that water is present on the surface of the minerals as well as within the pore spaces between mineral grains in rocks. This statement made is very much right as far as Calcite-containing stones are concerned because of the water’s affinity to the minerals.

Researchers have pointed out the fact that other studies have established a link between the presences of water with the fault movement and that of the earthquakes. However, the exact mechanism remained unknown. Such a finding is quite evident in areas where the fracking operations are in full swing, a process which requires a lot of water. 

The study has been currently focusing on the calcite-rich rocks amidst the presence of brine, which is a naturally occurring salty groundwater, taking place along the fault surfaces. It is known the fact that rock surfaces that slide past each other along faults are not smooth. The researchers further analyzed the naturally occurring tiny imperfections or roughness on the rock’s surface, which is called asperities. They also researched the fact ht at which friction and wore originate when both the surfaces pass through each other.

For experiments, the research team submerged calcite crystals within brine solutions among different mixtures and subjected them to various pressures to ensure a natural fault setting. The moment the glass was in equilibrium within the answer, the researchers used an atomic force minimal to bring up a tiny arm with a silicon tip. This phenomenon was mainly done to ensure the asperity across the crystal to find out the changes in the glass.