An experimental investigation was conducted to study the nature of dynamic rupture caused by shear loading, through impact, of interfaces which are held together by friction under external pressure. The dynamic stress field developed during rupture propagation was recorded in real time by a high-speed camera in conjunction with a classical dynamic photoelasticity set-up. Visual evidences of different dynamic propagating rupture modes were recorded. Unlike classical shear cracks in coherent interfaces of finite strength, rupture in frictional interfaces seems to grow without noticeable acceleration phases and at various discreet speeds. At low impact velocities a crack-like rupture mode occurs which becomes super-shear with the increase of the impact speed and a shear Mach cone emanates from the rupture point. For higher impact speeds super-shear and super-sonic Mach lines are observed formatting an unstable slip pulse which subsequently vanishes whereas evidences for extended stick and slip regions are recorded. Increasing the external applied pressure the observed features are intensified.

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