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HighSTEPS : HighStrainTEmperaturePressureSpeed

English title HighSTEPS : HighStrainTEmperaturePressureSpeed
Applicant Burg Jean-Pierre
Number 157772
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Geologisches Institut ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Geology
Start/End 01.10.2015 - 31.12.2019
Approved amount 300'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)


Keywords (4)

induced earthquakes ; frictional studies; earthquake nucleation ; permeability creation

Lay Summary (French)

Développement d'un appareil de cisaillement pour l'étude des propriétés de friction des roches, et dans le but de mieux comprendre la mécanique des tremblements de terre naturels et induits.
Lay summary

L'objectif principal de ce projet de recherche  est le développement d'un appareil de cisaillement haute température, pression, large déformation finie et grande vitesse de glissement (HighSTEPS : HighStrainTEmperaturePressureSpeed) capable de reproduire les conditions de déformation typiques de la croûte sismogénique; c’est à dire des pressions de confinement allant jusqu’à 100 MPa, des vitesses de glissement pouvant atteindre 1 m /s, des températures allant jusqu'à 500 K et des pressions de fluide  avoisinant 30 MPa. La machine de HIGHSTEPS permettra de mener une recherche pertinente dans un certain nombre de domaines scientifiques :


• propriété de friction des roches à basse vitesse et haute vitesse de glissement pour comprendre la nucléation, la propagation et l’arrêt des tremblements de terre naturels et induits.

• évolution de la perméabilité au cours du glissement.

• évolution de la micro sismicité au cours du glissement grâce à l’enregistrement des émissions acoustiques.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 09.10.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
INGV Italy (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
SCCER SoE Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
egu Poster A New State-of-the-art Apparatus to Study Earthquake Nucleation and Propagation: High STEPS 01.04.2019 vienna, Austria Burg Jean-Pierre; Violay Marie; Wiemer Stefan;
AGU Poster A New State-of-the-art Apparatus to Study Earthquake Nucleation and Propagation: HighSTEPS. 12.12.2018 washington dc, United States of America Burg Jean-Pierre; Wiemer Stefan; Violay Marie;
SGM Poster A New State-of-the-art Apparatus to Study Earthquake Nucleation and Propagation: HighSTEPS 01.12.2018 bern, Switzerland Violay Marie; Wiemer Stefan; Burg Jean-Pierre;

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
160588 Hydro-Mechanical Couplings in Enhanced Geothermal Reservoir _ Earthquake nucleation 01.10.2015 Assistant Professor (AP) Energy Grants
149428 Calibrating an indicative stress meter for the Earth crust 01.11.2013 Project funding
137867 Hydrofracture propagation and arrest in active geological settings: understanding high temperature / high pressure coupled processes through new laboratory rock-physics simulations 01.12.2011 Project funding
143300 Laboratory low-frequency seismic attenuation measurements of reservoir rocks 01.01.2013 Project funding
153931 Risk Governance of Deep Geothermal and Hydro Energy 01.11.2014 NRP 70 Energy Turnaround
173613 Stability and healing processes of fault during fluid-injection: from the lab to the field 01.09.2017 Ambizione Energy
160555 To induce or not to induce: an open problem. Study on injection-induced seismicity for GeoEnergy applications, from lab to field scale 01.09.2015 Ambizione Energy
170766 Physical constraints on natural and induced earthquakes using innovative lab-scale experiments: The LabQuake Machine 01.06.2017 R'EQUIP


The main objective of the project is the development of a high pressure, high-velocity, high strain and high temperature friction apparatus (HighSTEPS: HighStrainTEmperaturePres-sureSpeed) able to reproduce the deformation conditions typical of the seismogenic crust; i.e. confining pressure up to 100 MPa, slip rates up to 1 m/s, temperature up to 500 K, pore pressure up to 30 MPa and infinite displacement. Such apparatus will have greatly improved performances with respect forerunner apparatuses. The HIGHSTEPS machine can advance research relevant in a number of scientific areas: •Frictional studies that study the physical processes and conditions relevant for earth-quake rupture nucleation. •Acoustic emission studies that study for example the emergence of fracture networks and the evolution of the coherence of stress as a fault approaches failure. •Permeability related studies that evaluate the evolution of permeability under various stressing conditions as well as the fluid-rock interactions that lead to induced earth-quakes. HighSTEPS is particular relevant now because it adds a much needed experimental infra-structure to the on-going capacity building at ETH and within Switzerland as part of the fed-eral strategy on energy research, specifically the exploitation of deep geothermal energy and CO2 storage. We do not know yet how to build an underground heat exchanger that is suffi-ciently productive over many years while being seismically safe. Experiments performed on HighSTEPS will allow a wide range or researcher to quantitatively link and re-scale obser-vational studies on faults and micro-seismicity with numerical simulations of rupture pro-cesses and permeability creation. HighSTEPs is also an important facility that will allow to validate and generalise the measures taken at planned underground laboratories and planned pilot and demonstration projects.