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Experimental evidence for wall-rock pulverization during dynamic rupture at ultra-high pressure conditions

Abstract : The mechanisms triggering intermediate and deep earthquakes have puzzled geologists for several decades. There is still no consensus concerning whether such earthquakes are triggered by brittle or ductile mechanisms. We performed a deformation experiment on a synthetic lawsonite-bearing blueschist at a confining pressure of 3 GPa and temperatures from 583 to 1,073 K. After deformation, the recovered sample reveals conjugated shear fractures. Garnet crystals are dissected and displaced along these narrow faults and reveal micro- and nanostructures that resemble natural pulverization structures as well as partial amorphization. Formation of such structures at low confining pressures is known to require high tensile stresses and strain rates and is explained by the propagation of a dynamic shear rupture. The absence of shearing in the pulverized wall rock is taken as evidence that these structures pre-date the subsequent heat-producing frictional slip. In analogy to observations at low pressure we infer that the garnet structures in our experiment result from rapid propagation of a shear fracture even at the high pressure exerted on the sample and thus suggest that brittle deformation is possible at lower crustal to upper mantle depths.
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Soumis le : lundi 28 septembre 2020 - 15:30:46
Dernière modification le : vendredi 6 août 2021 - 09:48:05
Archivage à long terme le : : mardi 29 décembre 2020 - 18:41:50


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Sarah Incel, Alexandre Schubnel, Jörg Renner, Timm John, Loïc Labrousse, et al.. Experimental evidence for wall-rock pulverization during dynamic rupture at ultra-high pressure conditions. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2019, pp.115832. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115832⟩. ⟨hal-02319107⟩



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