The time-dependent properties of ceramic materials such as rocks depend both on preexisting cracks and chemical properties acting at their tips. We have examined the direct effect of chemical processes on the growth of a crack population by carrying out triaxial flow-through compression tests on Locharbriggs sandstone. The tests were carried out at temperatures of 25–80°C and at strain rates ranging from 10−5 to 10−8 s−1 under constant stress rate loading. The exit pore fluid was analyzed after the tests for the concentration of dissolved ions and acoustic emission was monitored in real time throughout the tests. The exit pore fluid silica concentration and microcrack damage derived from the acoustic emission (AE) data both exhibited an exponential increase during the strain hardening phase of deformation. Damage parameters inferred from the AE data predict the stress-strain curves adequately, or at least up to the point of strong microcrack coalescence. The damage parameters and silica signal were strongly correlated by a power law relationship. The observed environment and strain rate dependence of mechanical properties can hence be attributed uniquely to time-dependent crack growth by the stress corrosion mechanism.