The optimised superconducting stellarator W7-X generates its rotational transform by means of
external coils, therefore no toroidal current is necessary for plasma confinement. Electron
cyclotron current drive experiments were conducted for strikeline control and safe divertor
operation. During current drive experiments periodic and repetitive crashes of the central
electron temperature, similar to sawtooth crashes in tokamaks, were detected. Measurements
from soft x-ray tomography and electron cyclotron emission show that the crashes are preceded
by weak oscillating precursors and a displacement of the plasma core, consistent with a
(m, n)=(1, 1) mode. The displacement occurs within 100μs, followed by expulsion and
redistribution of the core into the external part of the plasma. Two types of crashes, with
different frequencies and amplitudes are detected in the experimental program. For these
non-stationary parameters a strong dependence on the toroidal current is found. A 1-D heuristic
model for current diffusion is proposed as a first step to explain the characteristic crash time.
Initial results show that the modelled current diffusion timescale is consistent with the initial
crash frequency and that the toroidal current rise shifts the position where the instability is
triggered, resulting in larger crash amplitudes.