Frictional Sliding of Ice

Ice is one of the most common materials in the solar system, but it is also one of the most enigmatic. The extreme deformational anisotropy between various planes in its crystal lattice creates strong internal states of stress, making it an interesting material to study in its own right but also as an analogue for other highly anisotropic materials. 

Large bodies of ice on the surface of various moons of the outer solar system demonstrate geologic activity and anomalously high heat fluxes (like the geysers observed on Enceladus, right) that are far in excess of what is expected. The disparity between predicted behavior and observed behavior from recent fly-bys suggests that there is a need to refine thermal models with parameters that have a sound physical foundation.

We are beginning an experimental study to measure, amoung other things, the frictional properties of ice. In particular we will employ double-direct-shear type experiments to measure ice-ice friction and ice-rock friction. We will apply a periodic load to replicate the role of tides.