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A growing body of evidence suggests that fluids are intimately linked to a variety of faulting processes. These include the long-term structural and compositional evolution of fault zones; fault creep; and the nucleation, propagation, arrest, and recurrence of earthquake ruptures. Besides the widely recognized physical role of fluid pressures in controlling the strength of crustal fault zones, it is also apparent that fluids can exert mechanical influence through a variety of chemical effects.
The United States Geological Survey sponsored a Conference on the Mechanical Effects of Fluids in Faulting under the auspices of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program at Fish Camp, California, from June 6 to 10, 1993. The purpose of the conference was to draw together and to evaluate the disparate evidence for the involvement of fluids in faulting; to establish communication on the importance of fluids in the mechanics of faulting between the different disciplines concerned with fault zone processes; and to help define future critical investigations, experiments, and observational procedures for evaluating the role of fluids in faulting. This conference drew together a diverse group of 45 scientists, with expertise in electrical and magnetic methods, geochemistry, hydrology, ore deposits, rock mechanics, seismology, and structural geology.