This chapter addresses the mechanisms by which instabilities can develop in rocks in the nominally ductile regime under conditions that the authors believe are relevant to Earth. We will not address brittle failure or frictional sliding processes in detail, but much of our discussion will be couched in terms of knowledge gained in studies of these processes. As a consequence, we will begin by discussing why brittle failure and frictional sliding cannot be the mechanism by which rocks become unstable at depth, despite the strong evidence that they are the underlying mechanism of earthquakes at shallow depths (e.g., Scholz 1990...

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