TS – Tectonics & Structural Geology

TS1.1 – Temperature in sedimentary basins: a tool for geodynamics

EGU2020-2386 | Displays | TS1.1


Andrea Di Giulio, Chiara Nicola, Domenico Grigo, Paolo Scotti, Massimiliano Zattin, Chiara Amadori, Silvia Tamburelli, Alberto Consonni, and Andrea Ortenzi

Unravelling the time-space distribution of diagenetic events modifying the pore network of reservoir rocks is a classical task of hydrocarbon research. Nevertheless, it is not always easy to reach that picture, as it needs to constraint a number of variables driving that distribution along the geological history of sedimentary basins.

Here we present the results of an integrated study performed on 15 samples of Palaeozoic reservoir sandstones coming from 3 hydrocarbon wells in the Illizi Basin. In particular, the topic of debate that promoted this study is the possible thermal effect on the Illizi Basin reservoirs rocks of the Cenozoic magmatic activity occurred in Hoggar dome, south of the studied region, and in other sector of the basin as pointed out by several magmatic intrusions.

The study was performed by combining: i) the reconstruction of the relative diagenetic timing obtained by petrographic observations; ii) microthermometric analyses of fluid inclusions trapped in diagenetic minerals; iii) low-T thermochronology (both Fission tracks and U-Th/H analyses) on clastic apatite grains; iv) vitrinite reflectance analysis; v) geohistory analysis of sampled wells. These data were used to constrain different thermal models, focussing in particular to the possible evidence of a Tertiary thermal overprint.

The results of the study can be summarized as follows:

  • Several diagenetic minerals precipitated in the pore network of the studied rocks; among these, precipitation conditions for quartz, calcite, ankerite and to a minor degree feldspars were constrained through fluid inclusion microthermometric analyses;
  • All these phases precipitated in a relatively narrow range of temperatures nicely correlated with burial depth of samples, from fluids with quite homogenous salinity (78-113 °C and 9.2-14.5 NaCl eq. %) suggesting a relatively limited time in which most of cements precipitated;
  • The data on the thermal maturity of organic matter (vitrinite reflectance along the Mesozoic sequence, and vitrinite reflectance equivalent, mainly from chitinozoans, for the Silurian-Devonian sequence) seem to suggest a heating higher than the one currently observed. This may be compatible both with an episode of magmatic activity or with a late Cretaceous-Tertiary burial now eroded (in the wells studied, no more than 500-700m);
  • Thermochronology shows a continuous burial until temperatures compatible with those observed by vitrinite reflectance although a minor thermal episode (i.e. with a temperature variation of the order of 10°C) is allowed.

Based on this integrated data set, different thermal scenarios have been tested, excluding or including a Cenozoic additional heating, in order to estimate the effect of the adopted thermal model on the age of cement precipitation in the pore system of studied reservoir rocks.

How to cite: Di Giulio, A., Nicola, C., Grigo, D., Scotti, P., Zattin, M., Amadori, C., Tamburelli, S., Consonni, A., and Ortenzi, A.: DIAGENETIC HISTORY VS. THERMAL EVOLUTION OF PALAEZOIC RESERVOIR ROCKS IN THE ILLIZI BASIN (Algeria), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2386,, 2020.

Evaporitic salt is prevailed in marine sedimentary basins, and the discovered hydrocarbon reservoirs are generally associated with salt structures in the world; accordingly salt structures have attracted much attention from academic and industry during the past decade. Tarim Basin that locates in northwest China, is the largest marine sedimentary basin in China with great hydrocarbon resources potential. Previous studies of salt structures in this basin mainly focus on its strong sealing capacity and structural traps created by salt structures. However, besides its extreme impermeability and low viscosity, rock salt has another unique thermal properties, featured by a large thermal conductivity as high as 5~6 W/(m.K), usually 2~3 times greater than that of other common sedimentary rocks, but a relatively low radiogenic heat production. This strong contrast in thermal properties could change the evolving thermal regime and associated thermal history of the source rocks around salt bodies, but has not been understood well. Herein based on the theoretical models and interpreted salt bearing seismic profiles from the Kuqa Foreland Basin, northern Tarim Basin, we use the 2D finite element numerical experiments to investigate the impacts of salt structures on basin geothermal regime and associated hydrocarbon thermal evolution. Our results show that, owing to its high efficiency in heat conduction, the salt rocks would result in obviously positive temperature anomalies (3~13%) above the salt body and negative temperature anomalies (11~35%) in the subsalt, enhancing and restraining the thermal maturation of source rocks above and below the salt body, respectively. The amplitude and extent of geothermal effects of salt structures depend on the thermal conductivity, geometry, thickness and burial depth of the salt bodies. The thermally affected area around the salt body can be 2 time of salt radius laterally and 2~3 times of salt thickness vertically. Salt structures in the Kuqa Foreland Basin can prominently cool the subsalt formation temperature and accordingly reduce the thermal maturity (Ro) of Jurassic source rocks as much as 18%, enabling the source rocks to be still of gas generation other than over-mature stage as expected previously, which is favor for deep hydrocarbon preservation below salt. In particular, salt structures in the west and east Kuqa Foreland Basin show strong differences in their thickness, geometric pattern, burial depth and composition, the thermal effects of salt structures on thermal maturation of subsalt source rocks should differ accordingly, which is supported by the observed tempo-spatial variation of Ro for Jurassic source rocks in this basin. Finally, we propose that the geothermal effects of salt structures will be of great importance in the deep hydrocarbon resources potential assessment and exploration in marine sedimentary basins in China.

How to cite: Liu, S. and Wang, L.: Quantifying the Effects of Salt Structures on Source Rocks Thermal Evolution of the Marine Sedimentary Basins, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4584,, 2020.

EGU2020-5815 | Displays | TS1.1

Unexpected thermal history of a syn-collisional basin revealed by geo- and thermochronology: the case of the Tertiary Piedmont Basin (Western Alps, Italy)

Chiara Amadori, Antonio Langone, Mattina Marini, Reguzzi Simone, Barbara Carrapa, Matteo Maino, and Andrea Di Giulio

The Tertiary Piedmont Basin (TPB) in NW Italy represents an episutural basin developed since the Late Eocene in the retrobelt of the Western Alps and in the foreland of the Northern Apennine. During Oligo-Miocene time, up to 3 km-thick clastic deposits filled the basin recording the tectonics associated with the shift from the Alpine collisional thickening and the progressive NE-migration of the Apennine. The continental thickening was also accompanied by the opening of the Liguro-Provençal Basin and the drift of the Corsica-Sardinia block. Because of this key-position, the tectono-sedimentary and thermochronological history of the TPB has been the object of extensive investigations (Maino et al., 2013 and reference therein). However, several questions regarding its burial-exhumation history are still open. In order to define the thermal history of the source-sink system, we combined literature data with new detrital apatite fission-track analyses and zircon U-Pb dating from Upper Priabonian to Lower Miocene syn-tectonic deposits. Results from AFT analysis show: i) a single reset population at 24.8 ± 1.2 Ma (Late Chattian) in the lowermost Late Priabonian sample; ii) partially annealed apatite grains from Early Rupelian sample; iii) unannealed Late Rupelian-Miocene samples with AFT age populations spanning from Late Cretaceous to Late Oligocene in time. Data from the Ligurian Alps crystalline massifs report similar AFT cooling ages between 22.9 ± 5.3 - 24.0 ± 1.4 Ma. This, combined with our data, shows that the bottom of the TPB sequence experienced ~110 °C heating and subsequent cooling together with its nearby margin. The heating experienced by the basin combined with reconstructed sedimentary thickness (before the exhumation/cooling event) of ca. < 3 km, implies an elevated geothermal gradient of about 60 °C/Km, which is anomalous for a thickened orogenic crust. Furthermore, one sample from Upper Oligocene sedimentary rocks contains an AFT detrital population age (33.6 ± 2 Ma) consistent with a youngest U-Pb age peak of 33.6 Ma from co-magmatic zircon grains, which likely reflects the age of volcanites today buried under the Po Plain (Di Giulio et al., 2001). Detrital zircon U-Pb ages show two main populations at ca. 290 and ca. 460 Ma, which are expected products of a Variscan source now exposed in the Ligurian Alps and Southern Alps. Our new geo-thermochronological data overall suggests a distributed Oligocene thermal signal, the origin of which is discussed. Possible explanations are: 1) a > 3 km of focused erosion associated with tectonic deformation occurred in the TPB and nearby margin and/or 2) an anomalously high heat flow event driven by asthenospheric rise as a consequence of the Liguro-Provençal rifting.

Maino M., Decarlis A., Felletti F., Seno S. (2013) Tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Tertiary Piedmont Basin (NW Italy) within the Oligo–Miocene central Mediterranean geodynamics. Tectonics, 32, 593–619.

Di Giulio, A., Carrapa B., Fantoni R., Gorla L., Valdisturlo L. (2001) Middle Eocene to Early Miocene sedimentary evolution of the western segment of the South Alpine foredeep (Italy). Int. J. Earth Sci., 90, 534-548.

How to cite: Amadori, C., Langone, A., Marini, M., Simone, R., Carrapa, B., Maino, M., and Di Giulio, A.: Unexpected thermal history of a syn-collisional basin revealed by geo- and thermochronology: the case of the Tertiary Piedmont Basin (Western Alps, Italy), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5815,, 2020.

EGU2020-7205 | Displays | TS1.1 | Highlight

Repurposing Britain’s Coal Measures: insights from seismic and borehole-based mapping, and geothermal modelling

Louis Howell, Stuart Egan, Bernard Besly, Graham Leslie, and Surika Sooriyathasan

As a consequence of 19th and 20th century coal mining, a vast quantity of subsurface data has been accumulated on Britain’s late Carboniferous Coal Measures and the basins in which they have accumulated. Here we discuss current understanding of the geological evolution of the British Isles during this period, as well as how these data can be repurposed as the UK seeks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

It is widely assumed that Britain’s Coal Measures accumulated during a period of tectonically quiescent, thermally induced post-rift subsidence and that the lateral extent of the Variscan foreland in southern England and Wales was restricted. Burial history curves constructed from stratigraphic successions across the UK suggest, however, that during the late Carboniferous the UK was characterised by accelerated subsidence rates as far north as northern England and Scotland, beyond any perceivable flexure-induced foredeep. On local scales, seismic and borehole-based mapping shows that many individual depocentres were strongly influenced by syn-depositional faulting, folding and positive inversion. This influence is illustrated by repeated local unconformities within the late Carboniferous succession across England and Scotland as well as variable isochore thickness trends. We propose that this succession was influenced by a combination of both local tectonic controls and regional controls such as supralithospheric orogenic loading and sublithospheric dynamic loading. In this sense, we believe that the British Variscan foreland system, as the British Isles should be referred to as during the late Carboniferous, resembled a ‘broken’ foreland system such as that of Patagonia, South America.

Understanding the nature of Britain’s Coal Measures has gained renewed importance given the need to reduce carbon emissions and seek alternative sources of energy. Across the UK, there are a number of active projects aiming to harness latent heat from abandoned underground coalmines. In addition, coupled CO2 sequestration and enhanced coal bed methane recovery offers a further, if riskier, low carbon subsurface energy prospect. To aid deep geothermal exploration, subsurface data from northern England is being compiled in order to construct regional 3D geothermal models. Our models highlight hot areas within the subsurface more realistically than equivalent maps based on contouring around individual borehole temperature measurements that are skewed by sparsely distributed data points and, potentially, inaccurate measurements. Deep heat-producing granite bodies and the variable thickness of thermally resistive rock units, such as the Pennine Coal Measures Group, are highlighted as dominant controls on the distribution of deep geothermal energy in northern England.

How to cite: Howell, L., Egan, S., Besly, B., Leslie, G., and Sooriyathasan, S.: Repurposing Britain’s Coal Measures: insights from seismic and borehole-based mapping, and geothermal modelling, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7205,, 2020.

EGU2020-13606 | Displays | TS1.1

A Bayesian approach for thermal history reconstruction in basin modeling

Andrea Licciardi, Kerry Gallagher, and Stephen Anthony Clark

Vitrinite reflectance and apatite fission track) and borehole data (bottom hole temperature and porosi ty) for thermal history reconstruction in basin modeling.  The approach implements a trans-dimensional and hierarchical Bayesian formulation with a reversible jump Markov chain Monte  Carlo (rjMcMC) algorithm. The main objective of the inverse problem is to infer the heat flow history below a borehole given the data and a set of geological constraints (e.g. stratigraphy , burial histories and physical properties of the sediments).  The algorithm incorporat es an adaptive, data-driven parametrization of the heat flow history, and allows for automatic estimation of relative importance of each data type in the inversion and for robust quantification of parameter uncertainties and trade-offs. In addition, the algorithm deals with uncertainties on the imposed geological constraints in two ways. First, the amount of erosion and timing of an erosional event are explicitly treated as independent parameters to be inferred from the data. Second, uncertainties on compaction parameters and surface temperature histo ry are directly propagated 
into the final probabilistic solution.

How to cite: Licciardi, A., Gallagher, K., and Clark, S. A.: A Bayesian approach for thermal history reconstruction in basin modeling, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13606,, 2020.

EGU2020-18462 | Displays | TS1.1 | Highlight

Middle Miocene onset of thrusting along the basal décollement of the Jura Mountains: Evidence from carbonate U-Pb dating and clumped isotope thermometry

Nathan Looser, Herfried Madritsch, Marcel Guillong, Oscar Laurent, Stephan Wohlwend, and Stefano M. Bernasconi

During its late-stage evolution, the European Alpine orogen witnessed a northwest-directed propagation of its deformation front along an evaporitic basal décollement into the foreland. This resulted in the decoupling of the northern Alpine Molasse Basin from its basement and the formation of the Jura fold-and-thrust belt. Here, we present the first absolute age and temperature constraints on deformation along this major décollement by using combined carbonate U-Pb dating by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and clumped isotope thermometry. We analyzed calcite veins associated with a secondary thrust fault branching off from the basal décollement in a deep borehole within the Swiss Molasse Basin providing evidence for three brittle deformation events related to Alpine contraction: Vein formation at ~14 Ma ago, thrust faulting with cataclasis ~13 Ma ago, and another vein formation event ~9 Ma ago. Clumped isotope data reveal vein calcite precipitation at temperatures of ~100 °C from fluids equilibrated with the host rock during all deformation intervals. These temperatures are in good agreement with temperature estimates from microfabrics of anhydrite mylonites in the basal décollement. Our data demonstrate that the propagation of Alpine deformation into its distal foreland occurred significantly earlier than previously inferred, at middle Miocene (Langhian) times at the latest, contributing to the debate about the late-stage geodynamics of the central Alps. The deformation sequence indicated by our results underpins fundamental kinematic models of viscous décollement-based foreland thrust belts. Beyond that, we demonstrate the potential of our methodological approach applied to foreland thrust systems in resolving the late-stage evolution of convergent orogens.

How to cite: Looser, N., Madritsch, H., Guillong, M., Laurent, O., Wohlwend, S., and Bernasconi, S. M.: Middle Miocene onset of thrusting along the basal décollement of the Jura Mountains: Evidence from carbonate U-Pb dating and clumped isotope thermometry, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18462,, 2020.

EGU2020-18533 | Displays | TS1.1

Metamorphosed Permian vertebrate fossils: geochemistry and mineralogy of “white” sharks

Anthea Arns, Frank Tomaschek, Edith Alig, Katrin Weber, Hubert Vonhof, Jan Fischer, Sebastian Voigt, and Thomas Tütken

The intra-mountainous Saar-Nahe Basin (SNB), SW Germany, a strike-slip-fault basin formed during the Variscian orogeny, was filled by a large freshwater lake system during the Early Permian. The SNB experienced intense syn- and post-depositional magmatic activity, resulting in a complex volcano-sedimentary sequence of magmatic intrusions, lava flows and tephra deposits intercalating in continental red beds and limno-fluvial sediments. Fossils preserved in white color are found in Permo-Carboniferous fluvio-lacustrine siliciclastic floodplain sediments with thin intercalated limestone banks, of the Remigiusberg Formation in the SNB. The oldest amniote fossil of Germany and other partly articulated tetrapod remains were recovered from it at the Remigiusberg quarry near Kusel (e.g., Fröbisch et al., 2011; Voigt et al. 2014). These terrestrial tetrapods were discovered together with aquatic vertebrate fossils in close proximity (< 5 m; within the contact aureole) to an underlying decameter thick sill of kuselite, an auto-hydrothermally altered andesite. We aim to assess the thermal and chemical impact of post-depositional contact metamorphism and hydrothermal activity associated with this sill on the bioapatite of vertebrate skeletal remains by characterizing the elemental, isotopic and mineralogical composition of these fossils. White-colored, likely hydrothermally altered teeth of the freshwater shark Lebachacanthus were analyzed and compared to shark teeth of the same species retaining their original black color, from contemporaneous unmetamorphosed lacustrine black shale deposits in the SNB.


In situ Electron Microprobe analysis and Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) elemental profiles reveal distinct diagenetic histories for the black- and white-colored shark teeth. This is further supported by apatite 18O and 13C values, which indicate different secondary alteration by fluids for both facies. Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction on bulk powder samples identify fluorapatite as the major mineral phase in all teeth. Apatite crystallinity of both dentin and enameloid is higher in white- than in black-colored fossils, consistent with crystallite growth due to thermal overprint of > 500 °C. For both, white- and black-colored shark teeth, LA-ICP-MS U-Pb analyses yield inconclusive data and unexpectedly young ages inconsistent with known ages of deposition or metamorphism.


We are currently analyzing the petrology of the kuselite to constrain the metamorphic evolution of sediments in the contact aureole by modelling. Additionally, heating experiments of modern bioapatite samples are performed to further constrain the alteration temperature. Altogether, these data will enhance our understanding of the particular thermometamorphic/hydrothermal conditions required to form white-colored, recrystallized vertebrate fossils in the context of the magmatic-metamorphic evolution of the SNB.



FRÖBISCH, J., SCHOCH, R.R., MÜLLER, J., SCHINDLER, T. & SCHWEISS, D.J. (2011): The oldest amniote from Germany: a sphenacodontid synapsid from the Saar-Nahe Basin. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, 56: 113–120.


VOIGT, S., FISCHER, J., SCHINDLER, T., WUTTKE, M., SPINDLER, F. & RINEHART, L. (2014): On a potential fossil hotspot for Pennsylvanian-Permian nonaquatic vertebrates in Europe. Freiberger Forschungshefte, C548: 39–44.

How to cite: Arns, A., Tomaschek, F., Alig, E., Weber, K., Vonhof, H., Fischer, J., Voigt, S., and Tütken, T.: Metamorphosed Permian vertebrate fossils: geochemistry and mineralogy of “white” sharks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18533,, 2020.

EGU2020-19279 | Displays | TS1.1

Structural styles of the External Rif and Flysch Domain (Rif belt, northern Morocco) through thermal maturity and structural data

Andrea Schito, Achraf Atouabat, Sveva Corrado, Faouziya Haissen, Geoffroy Mohn, and Dominique Frizon De Lamotte

Located in northern Morocco, the Rif belt represents the western edge of the Maghrebides system. This domain underwent a significant Cenozoic alpine compressional deformation, due to the collision between the North African margin and the south-western margin of the exotic Alboran Domain. This collision led to the development of a nappe stack during the Miocene.

This contribution aims to characterize the main tectonic mechanisms driving the evolution of the Rifain wedge, its burial-exhumation paths and to understand the former architecture of the North African paleo-margin. The work focuses mainly on the Flysch domain, originated from the Maghrebian branch of the Tethys and on the External domain (namely Intrarif, Mesorif and Prerif) that belong to the former north African margin. To define the thrust sheet stacking pattern and their burial-exhumation paths, a regional transect from Chefchaouen and Ouezzane towns (Central Rif), crossing the orogenic wedge from the Flysch to the Prerif Units is constructed.

The methodological approach consists in combining petrography and Raman micro-spectroscopy on organic matter and 1D thermal modelling, together with field structural data.

A new paleo-thermal data set of vitrinite reflectance (Ro%) and Raman micro-spectroscopy displays levels of thermal maturity between early and deep diagenetic conditions (Ro% ranges from 0.50% to 1.15%).

Preliminary results show an abrupt change in the thermal maturity and the rate of shortening in the Loukkos sub-unit (Intrarif Domain) that is structurally squeezed between Tangier sub-unit (Intrarif Domain) and the “Izzaren Duplex” (Mesorif).

Furthermore, previous studies show that the thickest crust below the Rif fold-and-thrust belt is located below the Izzaren area, suggesting a deep crustal imbrication at the transition between the Intrarif and the Mesorif. These observations joined with the thermal maturity data and 1D thermal modelling allow revisiting the structural evolution of the central part of the Rif belt, by defining the rate of shortening and proposing a new geological restoration with respect to the Mesozoic North African margin structural original setting.

How to cite: Schito, A., Atouabat, A., Corrado, S., Haissen, F., Mohn, G., and Frizon De Lamotte, D.: Structural styles of the External Rif and Flysch Domain (Rif belt, northern Morocco) through thermal maturity and structural data, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19279,, 2020.

EGU2020-20672 | Displays | TS1.1

A Pyrenean-like model for the Variscan belt in NW Africa : insights from thermometry-based Raman spectroscopy study in the Khenifra Basin

Rémi Leprêtre, Andrea Schito, Rachid Ouchaou, Mohamed El Houicha, and Francis Chopin

The Variscan belt in NW Africa is an intracontinental belt, resulting from far-field compressional stress during the closure of the Rheic Ocean between the Late Carboniferous and the Early Permian. In the classical view, this orogen building was preceded by a pre-orogenic stage, namely the Eo-variscan stage, suggested to have occurred at the Late Devonian-Early Carboniferous transition.

This view is now questioned, for multiple reasons. A first structural reason aims at re-interpreting the so-called Eovariscan features as extensional ones. Indeed, although many structures have been described, their integration into a compressional setting is not straightforward. A second reason is geodynamical, since this peculiar stage is bracketed between two general extensional phases recorded at the scale of NW Africa, and this leaves a very short time interval to proceed to a compressional phase that is geodynamically not integrated until today. At last, a third reason stems from early findings from metamorphic works in the Western Meseta that demonstrated the occurrences of previously unnoticed high geothermal gradients inside numerous Early Carboniferous basins (Chopin et al., 2014 ; Wernert et al., 2016 ; Delchini et al., 2018 ; Lahfid et al., 2019).

In this work, we sampled the Khenifra Basin within the easternmost part of the Western Meseta, where the Eovariscan deformation was defined (Allary et al., 1972). We carried on structural observations into the basement and sampled both the Ordovician basement and the Middle(?)-Late Visean series of the basin, which is thought the be extensional. Maximum temperatures reached by the 77 sampled rocks were obtained from the analysis of organic matter with the use of the Raman spectroscopy. The examination of this new dataset demonstrates that the Ordovician series acquired temperatures through a single event, consistently with their common record of the Eovariscan deformation. Instead, the unconformable Visean series on top of the basement show a pronounced basinal asymmetry, from low temperatures (< 160°C) to temperatures equivalent to the Ordovician ones (> 250°C). The Visean series do not record the Eovariscan deformation, and their thermal structure was acquired before the Variscan event, regarding their repartition within the basin. The examination of the different hypotheses for the timing of the maximal temperature acquisition (Variscan, compressional Eovariscan and extensional Eovariscan) leads to a single option only compatible with an extensional Eovariscan context.

The renewal on the knowledge about the early stages of the Variscan orogeny in NW Africa allows us to consider a Pyrenean-like model for the formation of this intraplate belt, resulting from the inversion of hot Early Carboniferous rifted basins.

How to cite: Leprêtre, R., Schito, A., Ouchaou, R., El Houicha, M., and Chopin, F.: A Pyrenean-like model for the Variscan belt in NW Africa : insights from thermometry-based Raman spectroscopy study in the Khenifra Basin, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20672,, 2020.

EGU2020-20718 | Displays | TS1.1

Joint application of fluid inclusion and clumped isotope (Δ47) thermometry to burial carbonate cements from Upper Triassic reservoirs of the Paris Basin

Natalia Amanda Vergara, Marta Gasparrini, Sveva Corrado, and Stefano Bernasconi

A realistic reconstruction of the time-temperature history of sedimentary basins is critical to understand basin evolution and to predict oil maturation as well to assess reservoir quality. Carbonate rocks undergo diagenetic processes that modify their mineralogical and petrophysical properties. Understanding the temperature at which those processes occur and determining the geochemistry of the driving fluids is critical to constrain their occurrence and evolution in space and time.

Here, we put to the test the joint application of two independent techniques: the traditional fluid inclusion microthermometry (FIM) and the more recent clumped isotopes thermometer (∆47). We compare thermal information acquired by Δ47 thermometer and FIM on diagenetic carbonates having precipitated at temperatures between 60°C and 130°C in Upper Triassic reservoirs (depths of 1820-2450 m) from the well-known Paris Basin, and having suffered 120°C during maximum burial for about 20 Ma. A conventional diagenesis study (petrography, O-C isotope geochemistry) has been accomplished in samples from three different cores drilled in carbonate-cemented siliciclastic reservoir units of Norian age (Grés de Chaunoy Formation) and located in the northern part of the basin depocenter. A complete cement paragenesis was reconstructed highlighting three different burial cements: two non-ferroan blocky calcite phases (Cal1 and Cal2) and one non-ferroan dolomite phase of saddle type (Dol1). The progressively more negative δ18Ocarb suggests a possible increase in temperature, going from Cal1 to Dol1, whereas the consistently negative δ13C could indicate the involvement of continental fluids.

FIM indicates homogenization temperatures (Th) spanning from 60°C to 95°C (mode 67.5°C) for Cal1, 70°C to 110°C (mode 84°C) for Cal2, and 100°C to 130°C (mode 115°C) for Dol1. Δ47 measurements overall reveals lower temperatures for calcite cements, indicating probable thermal re-equilibration of the fluid inclusions, and a fairly similar temperature for the saddle dolomite cement. Uncertainties in the temperatures obtained through FIM and ∆47 thermometry and in the successively calculated δ18Ofluid, may lead to an erroneous assessment of the time of precipitation of the different diagenetic phases and to an erroneous thermal history and fluid-flow reconstruction. 

This work emphasizes the necessity of better understanding the limitations and applicability fields of these thermometric tools, especially when applied to burial diagenetic phases precipitated at temperatures above 100°C and/or in reservoirs having experienced temperatures in the gas window.

How to cite: Vergara, N. A., Gasparrini, M., Corrado, S., and Bernasconi, S.: Joint application of fluid inclusion and clumped isotope (Δ47) thermometry to burial carbonate cements from Upper Triassic reservoirs of the Paris Basin, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20718,, 2020.

EGU2020-21703 | Displays | TS1.1

Sedimentological features and thermal maturity signature of the upper Triassic Streppenosa and Noto Formations, source rocks in the Hyblean Plateau (SE Sicily, Italy)

Rosanna Maniscalco, Sveva Corrado, Martina Balestra, Andrea Schito, Claudio Ivan Casciano, Martina Forzese, Sergio Montalbano, Alessandra Pellegrino, Andang Bachtiar, Giuseppe Palmeri, and Agata Di Stefano

The upper Triassic Streppenosa and Noto Formations are considered the main source rocks of the Hyblean Plateau in south-eastern Sicily, that represents the present-day deformed foreland of the Sicilian fold-and-thrust belt. This work focusses on the Upper Triassic Streppenosa and Noto Formations, penetrated by the Eureka 1 onshore well (south-eastern Sicily, Italy) in order to constrain the burial-thermal history of this basin of the western Tethys. According to previous paleogeographic reconstructions, starting from Norian, the palaeogeographic scenario consisted, moving from north to south, of a wide carbonate platform (Sciacca Fm.), adjacent to two different domains: the euxinic lagoon/basin of the Noto Formation, and, to the south, the basin of the Streppenosa Formation. Eureka 1 well is located in the inner portion of the platform-basin system and its Triassic succession consists of alternation of black shales and micritic, microbial dolomitic laminated limestones. A detailed description of the sedimentological facies from cores samples has been performed together with detailed organic petrography/Raman spectroscopy and clay mineralogy on fine grained sediments to assess thermal maturity of the Streppenosa and Noto Fms. The main facies consist of light-grey limestones (wackestone-mudstone) with scattered sub-angular intraclast, light grey finely laminated limestones, dark grey-black laminated mudstones, brownish undulated algal laminae saturated with bitumen. The cores are often bitumen saturated and interrupted by different sets of open microfractures, veins filled with calcite, and stylolites (parallel and vertical with respect to lamination) that may enhance and/or inhibit at places the fluid flow. Concerning thermal maturity, the studied interval falls in the lower-mid portion of the oil window, with robust agreement among the geothermometers derived from the three adopted techniques.

How to cite: Maniscalco, R., Corrado, S., Balestra, M., Schito, A., Casciano, C. I., Forzese, M., Montalbano, S., Pellegrino, A., Bachtiar, A., Palmeri, G., and Di Stefano, A.: Sedimentological features and thermal maturity signature of the upper Triassic Streppenosa and Noto Formations, source rocks in the Hyblean Plateau (SE Sicily, Italy), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21703,, 2020.

TS2.3 – Deformation processes, microstructures and physical properties

EGU2020-2773 | Displays | TS2.3

When minerals fight back: The relationship between back stress and geometrically necessary dislocation density

Christopher Thom, David Goldsby, Kathryn Kumamoto, and Lars Hansen

The dynamics of several geophysical phenomena, such as post-seismic deformation and post-glacial isostatic readjustment, are inferred to be controlled by the transient rheology of olivine in Earth’s mantle. However, the physical mechanism(s) that underlie(s) this behavior remain(s) relatively unknown, and most experimental studies focus on quantifying steady-state rheology. Recent studies have suggested that back stresses caused by long-range elastic interactions among dislocations could play a role in transient deformation of olivine. Wallis et al. (2017) identified an internal back stress in olivine single crystals deforming at 1573 K, which gave rise to anelastic transient deformation in stress dip experiments. Hansen et al. (2019) quantified the room-temperature strain hardening of olivine deforming by low-temperature plasticity and measured a back stress that gave rise to a Bauschinger effect, a well-known phenomenon in materials science wherein the yield stress is reduced upon reversing the sense of direction of the deformation.

To explore deformation at very high dislocation density, we have developed a novel nanoindentation load drop method to measure the back stress in a material at sub-micron length scales. Using a self-similar Berkovich tip, we measure back stresses in single crystals of olivine, quartz, and plagioclase feldspar at a range of indentation depths from 100–1700 nm, corresponding to geometrically necessary dislocation (GND) densities of order 1014–1015 m-2. Our results reveal a power-law relationship between back stress and GND density with an exponent ranging from 0.44-0.55 for each material, with an average across all materials of 0.48. Normalizing back stress by the shear modulus measured during the indentation test results in a master curve with a power-law exponent of 0.44, in close agreement with the theoretical prediction (0.5) derived from the classical Taylor hardening equation (Taylor, 1934). For olivine, the extrapolation of our fit quantitatively agrees with other published data spanning over 5 orders of magnitude in GND density and temperatures ranging from 298-1573 K. This work provides the first experimental evidence in support of Taylor hardening in a geologic material, supports the assertion that strain hardening is an athermal process that can occur during high-temperature creep, and suggests that back stresses from long-range interactions among dislocations must be considered in rheological models of transient creep.

How to cite: Thom, C., Goldsby, D., Kumamoto, K., and Hansen, L.: When minerals fight back: The relationship between back stress and geometrically necessary dislocation density, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2773,, 2020.

EGU2020-21694 | Displays | TS2.3

The role of grain boundary energy anisotropy on the grain size evolution during normal grain growth.

Hesham Salama, Katharina Marquardt, Julia Kundin, Oleg Shchyglo, and Ingo Steinbach

Many regions of the Earth’s mantle deform in grain size-sensitive creep regimes. The grain size right below the transition zone is believed to be very small, and the grain size should in subsequent depths be mainly controlled by normal grain growth. The grain size evolution is commonly predicted using either existing grain growth laws in combination with grain boundary diffusion coefficients or by extrapolating empirically determined grain growth laws. Effects of Zenner pinning and different ratios of second phases have been studied, while the role of anisotropic grain boundary properties is currently neglected1.  The grain boundary energy varies with the orientation of the grain boundary plane, as expressed through the typical crystal habitae (Wulff-shapes). Individual crystals in a polycrystalline material maintain a grain boundary energy anisotropy during grain growth. Here we study how grain boundary anisotropy impacts grain boundary migration and normal grain growth rates by three-dimensional phase-field simulations2. We imply grain boundary energy minimization by faceting/varying the grain boundary plane to minimize the grain boundary energy. The ideal grain boundary energy anisotropy for the solid-solid interface is taken from experimentally investigated grain boundary plane distributions and grain boundary energy distributions on periclase (MgO). We compare the grain size evolution in simulations with isotropic and anisotropic grain boundary energy of cubic crystal symmetry. We found that the grain boundary energy anisotropy has a significant influence on grain boundary migration and grain growth kinetics2.

<r>2- <r0>2= kt

The change in grain size is given as variation between the initial and final average grain radius, r. The time is t, and a material-specific parameter that accounts for the grain boundary energy anisotropy is extracted from the simulations as

k = A·µgb·σgb

Where, the grain boundary energy, σgb varies with orientation, and the grain boundary mobility, µgb assumed to be isotropic. We found that the rate of grain growth for periclase, A is a factor of 3 smaller compared to an isotropic material.

These results are of three-fold importance:

A better prediction of grain size evolution will need to develop an anisotropic theory for grain growth, that address our lake in knowledge regarding pressure effects on both grain boundary energy anisotropy and diffusion.

1. Rohrer, G. S. Annu. Rev. Mater. Res. 2005

2. Salama et al. Acta Materialia 2020

How to cite: Salama, H., Marquardt, K., Kundin, J., Shchyglo, O., and Steinbach, I.: The role of grain boundary energy anisotropy on the grain size evolution during normal grain growth., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21694,, 2020.

EGU2020-13710 | Displays | TS2.3

Relocated micas in marble – indicators for postdeformational microfabric modification

Rebecca Kühn, Florian Duschl, Bernd Leiss, and Torben Schulze

A relocation of mica grains in marbles can be observed as trace of newly precipitated calcite material in cathodoluminescence microscopy analysis. Mica grains relocate by rotation and/or translation from foliation parallel to new irregular orientations. The mica grains can be either located at calcite grain boundaries or within large calcite grains.

The process erases deformed, inclusion-rich calcite material and creates undeformed and mostly inclusion-free grains and can therefore be regarded as postdeformational. Not every mica present relocates and the choice of whether a specific mica relocates cannot be related to a specific primary orientation. Furthermore, no significant difference in composition between relocated and non-relocated mica grains can be observed. Newly precipitated calcite has less Mg than the dissolved grain material.

The precipitation of new calcite material at the calcite-mica interface is supposed to be the initial trigger leading to dissolution of inclusion-rich, deformed calcite material at the opposite side of the mica grain. The newly precipitated calcite material inherits the already existing calcite grain‘s crystallographic orientation.

Assuming this process occurs to a larger extent in a material, it might modify a deformation-related microfabric. Therefore, an interpretation in terms of deformation conditions should be done carefully, considering postdeformational dissolution-precipitation processes.

How to cite: Kühn, R., Duschl, F., Leiss, B., and Schulze, T.: Relocated micas in marble – indicators for postdeformational microfabric modification, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13710,, 2020.

EGU2020-7681 | Displays | TS2.3

Shear coupled grain boundary migration as a deformation mechanism in minerals.

Gill Pennock and Martyn Drury

A grain boundary can move under stress by a mechanism called shear coupled grain boundary migration (SC GBM) and contribute to strain. SC GBM is considered to be a general property of all grain boundaries over a wide range of misorientation angles, although higher deformation temperatures favour grain boundary sliding. Apart from a structured boundary interface, SC also requires a critical shear stress. We examine evidence for SC GBM in ice. An extensive literature study showed that SC GBM of high angle boundaries does occur in ice bicrystals that were probably deformed under conditions close to those found in nature. We conclude that SC GBM is likely to be an important deformation mechanism for geological materials, where extensive GBM occurs and also in nano sized materials, such as fault gauges.

How to cite: Pennock, G. and Drury, M.: Shear coupled grain boundary migration as a deformation mechanism in minerals., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7681,, 2020.

EGU2020-871 | Displays | TS2.3

The upper 2121 m at EastGRIP - Results from physical properties of NEGIS

Nicolas Stoll, Ilka Weikusat, Johanna Kerch, Jan Eichler, Wataru Shigeyama, Tomoyuki Homma, Daniela Jansen, Steven Franke, Ernst-Jan Kuiper, David Wallis, Julien Westhoff, Tomotaka Saruya, Sérgio Henrique Faria, Sepp Kipfstuhl, Kumiko Goto Azuma, Nobuhiko Azuma, and Dorthe Dahl-Jensen

Here we present the ice microstructure and CPO (c-axes fabric) data from the upper 2121 m of the EastGRIP ice core, an on-going deep drilling project on the North East Greenland Ice Stream. Understanding ice flow behaviour of fast flowing ice streams is crucial for accurate projections of future global sea level rise, but is still poorly understood due to e.g. missing observational fabric data from ice streams.

The presented CPO patterns found at EastGRIP show (1) a rapid evolution of c-axes anisotropy compared to deep ice cores from less dynamic sites, (2) a CPO evolution towards a strong vertical girdle and (3) CPO patterns that have not previously been directly observed in ice. Furthermore, data regarding grain properties (e.g. grain size) and indications of dynamic recrystallization, already at shallow depths, are presented.

The ice CPO shows a clear evolution with depth. In the first measurements at 111 m depth a broad single maximum distribution is observed, which transforms into a crossed girdle CPO (196-294 m). With increasing depth, an evolution towards a vertical girdle c-axes distribution occurs. Below 1150 m the CPO evolves into a vertical girdle with a higher density of c-axes oriented horizontally, a novel CPO in ice. These CPO patterns indicate a depth-related change in deformation modes, from vertical compression to extensional deformation along flow.

Grain size values are similar to results from other Greenlandic deep ice cores. Grain size evolution is characterized by an increase until 500 m depth, a decrease until 1360 m depth and mainly constant values in the Glacial. These findings are accompanied by indications of an early onset of dynamic recrystallisation e.g. irregular grain shapes, protruding grains and island grains.

The presented high-resolution data enable, for the very first time, a detailed and data- based look into a fast-flowing ice stream and are an important step towards a better understanding of the rheology of ice and its flow behaviour.

How to cite: Stoll, N., Weikusat, I., Kerch, J., Eichler, J., Shigeyama, W., Homma, T., Jansen, D., Franke, S., Kuiper, E.-J., Wallis, D., Westhoff, J., Saruya, T., Faria, S. H., Kipfstuhl, S., Azuma, K. G., Azuma, N., and Dahl-Jensen, D.: The upper 2121 m at EastGRIP - Results from physical properties of NEGIS , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-871,, 2020.

Small grain size and a well-mixed phase assemblage are key features of upper mantle (ultra)mylonitic layers. In those layers, Zener pinning inhibits grain growth, which could lead to diffusion creep. This increases the strain rate for a given stress significantly. Prerequisite is phase mixing which can occur by dynamic recrystallization (dynRXS) plus grain boundary sliding (GBS), metamorphic or melt/fluid-rock reactions, creep cavitation plus nucleation, or by a combination of those processes. In order to get insights into the interplay of phase mixing and dynRXS we investigate microfabrics (EBSD, optical microscopy) displaying the transition from clasts to mixed assemblages. Samples are taken from the Lanzo peridotite shear zone (Italy).

Olivine dynamically recrystallizes from protomylonitic to ultramylonitic samples. Its grain size varies systematically between monomineralic (~20µm) and polymineralic layers (~10µm). Olivine is the dominant mixing phase for both, dynamically recrystallizing orthopyroxene (ol~55vol.%) and clinopyroxene clasts (ol~45vol.%). In contrast, recrystallizing olivine clasts show little evidence of phase mixing. In phase mixtures, olivine neoblasts show weak (J-index ~1.8) C-Type and weak (J-Index ~1.5) B-type CPO’s. Both types suggest the presence of water during deformation.

Isolated, equiaxial orthopyroxene clasts are present in all samples. DynRXS of opx starts in mylonites. Some clasts and tips of extensively elongated opx bands (max. axial ratios 1:50) are bordered by fine-grained (min. ECD~5µm) mixtures of olivine, opx ± anorthite/ cpx/ pargasite. Mixing intensities seem to depend on the connection to the olivine-rich matrix. Clast grain boundaries are highly lobate with indentations of secondary phases (mostly olivine). Opx neoblasts have no internal deformation and show large misorientations close to their host clast (misorientation angle >45° at ~20µm distance). Their grain shape is either flat and elongated or equiaxial. Both shapes have lobate boundaries. Their CPO depends on the host clast orientation. In ultramylonites, opx bands disappeared completely.

Clinopyroxene porphyroclasts dynamically recrystallize in protomylonite to ultramylonite samples. Olivine is the dominant mixing phase (~45vol.%). Cpx mixed area grain sizes tend to be coarser (~10µm) than in corresponding opx areas (~6µm). Ultramylonitic cpx-ol assemblages have a higher mixing percentage (phase boundaries/grain boundaries ~70%) than mylonitic assemblages (~40%). In the mylonitic layers, clusters of cpx neoblasts form ‘walls’ parallel to their host grain borders. Olivine neoblasts between these clusters show no CPO. The overall cpx CPO varies from [001] perpendicular and [010] parallel to the foliation with (J -Index ~2.5) to [100] perpendicular and [001] parallel to the foliation (J-Index ~1.2).

Beside few thoroughly mixed areas, bands of cpx+ol and of opx+ol are still distinguishable in ultramylonitic layers. This suggests their origin to be dynamically recrystallized opx and cpx clasts. Therefore, phase mixing is assumed to occur simultaneously to clast recrystallization. Beside a small gradient of opx/cpx abundance depending on the distance from their host clast there is little evidence for phase mixing by dynRXS+GBS only. High abundances of olivine neoblasts at grain boundaries of recrystallizing clasts and their instant mixed assemblage with host phase neoblasts suggest phase mixing being strongly dependent on olivine nucleation during dynRXS of opx and cpx.

How to cite: Tholen, S. and Linckens, J.: Phase mixing in upper mantle shear zones: Olivine nucleation during dynamic recrystallization of orthopyroxene and clinopyroxene porphyroclasts, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4983,, 2020.

EGU2020-9953 | Displays | TS2.3

Strain localisation during diffusion creep: influence of grain coarsening and grain boundary sliding

John Wheeler, Lynn Evans, Robyn Gardner, and Sandra Piazolo

Diffusion creep and the wet low temperature version, pressure solution, are major deformation mechanisms in the Earth. Pressure solution operates in many metamorphosing systems in the crust and may contribute to slow creep on fault surfaces. Diffusion creep prevails in areas of the upper mantle deforming slowly, and possibly in most of the lower mantle. Both mechanisms contribute to localisation since small grain sizes can deform faster.

However, there has been limited attention paid to the evolution of microstructure during diffusion creep. In some experiments grains coarsen; in some but not all experiments grains remain rather equant. We have developed a grain-scale numerical model for diffusion creep, which indicates that those processes are very important in influencing evolving strength. Our models illustrate three behaviours.

  1. Strain localises along slip surfaces formed by aligned grain boundaries on all scales. This affects overall strength.
  2. Diffusion creep is predicted to produce elongate grains and then the overall aggregate has intense mechanical anisotropy. Thus strength during diffusion creep, and localisation on weak zones, is influenced not just by grain size but by other aspects of microstructure.
  3. Grain coarsening increases grain size and strength. Our most recent work shows how it interacts with ongoing deformation. In particular grain growth can lead to particular grain shapes which are directly related to strain rate, and influence strength. Consequently, understanding localisation during diffusion creep must encompass the effects of diffusion itself, grain boundary sliding and grain coarsening.

How to cite: Wheeler, J., Evans, L., Gardner, R., and Piazolo, S.: Strain localisation during diffusion creep: influence of grain coarsening and grain boundary sliding, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9953,, 2020.

EGU2020-4273 | Displays | TS2.3

Ductile shear zones – future perspectives

Christoph Schrank

About 50 years ago, John Ramsay and colleagues established the thorough foundation for the field-scale observational and mathematical description of the structures, deformation, and kinematics in ductile shear zones. Since then, these probably most important instabilities of the ductile lithosphere enjoyed an almost explosive growth in scientific attention. It is perhaps fair to say that this tremendous research effort featured four main themes:


[1] The historic scientific nucleus – quantification of shear-zone geometry, strain and associated kinematic history from field observations


[2] Qualitative and quantitative analysis of microphysical deformation mechanisms in the field and the laboratory


[3] Shear-zone rheology


[4] The development of physically consistent mathematical models for shear zones, mainly using continuum mechanics.


In concert, these four cornerstones of shear-zone research enabled tremendous progress in our understanding of why and how ductile shear zones form. So, what are some of the outstanding problems?


A truly comprehensive model for ductile shear zones must account for the vast range of length and time scales involved, each easily covering ten orders of magnitude, as well as the associated intimate coupling between thermal, hydraulic, mechanical, and chemical processes. The multi-scale and multi-physics nature of ductile shear zones generates scientific challenges for all four research themes named above. This presentation is dedicated to highlighting exciting challenges in themes 2, and 3 and 4.


In the microanalytical arena [2], the nano-scale is an exciting new frontier, especially when it comes to the interplay between metamorphism and ductile deformation. The nano-frontier can be tackled with new synchrotron methods. I showcase some applications to fossil shear-zone samples and discuss opportunities for in-situ experiments. In the domain of rheology [3], I present some simple experiments with strain-softening materials and field observations that support the notion: transient rheological behaviour is very important for shear localisation. In the modelling domain [4], some recent examples for the intriguing physical consequences predicted by new multi-physics and cross-scale coupling terms in ductile localisation problems are illustrated.

How to cite: Schrank, C.: Ductile shear zones – future perspectives, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-4273,, 2020.

EGU2020-5250 | Displays | TS2.3

Evidence that viscous shear zones spontaneously establish hydro-mechanical anisotropy

James Gilgannon, Marius Waldvogel, Thomas Poulet, Florian Fusseis, Alfons Berger, Auke Barnhoorn, and Marco Herwegh

We revisit large shear strain deformation experiments on Carrara marble and observe that anisotropic porous domains develop spontaneously during shearing. Specifically, as samples are deformed periodic porous sheets are documented to emerge and are found to transfer mass. These results imply that viscous shear zones may naturally partition fluids into highly anisotropic bands. As this hydro-mechanical anisotropy is produced by creep, each porous sheet is interpreted to represent a transient dynamic pathway for fluid transport. It is unclear how long each porous domain is uniquely sustained but it is clear that sheets are persistently present with increasing strain. Our results forward the idea that viscous shear zones have dynamic transport properties that are not related to fracturing or chemical reaction. We believe these new results provide experimental foundation for changing the paradigm of viscosity in rocks to include dynamic permeability. In our view making this change in perspective could alter many classical interpretations in natural banded mylonite zones, for example shear zone parallel syn-kinematic veining may be the result of pore sheet instability and ductile fracturing.

How to cite: Gilgannon, J., Waldvogel, M., Poulet, T., Fusseis, F., Berger, A., Barnhoorn, A., and Herwegh, M.: Evidence that viscous shear zones spontaneously establish hydro-mechanical anisotropy, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5250,, 2020.

Present exposure of the ductile Caledonian retrowedge in northwestern Scotland records the evolution of a shear zone that was exhuming while actively deforming, providing a natural laboratory to study strain localization in a progressively cooling system. Examination of rocks from two detailed transects across this region consistently show a transition from microstructures that are dominated by interconnected phyllosilicate networks in a quartz-rich matrix with feldspar porphyroclasts, to interconnected fine-grained regions of mixed quartz + phyllosilicate + feldspar. These polyphase regions are demonstrably weaker than surrounding quartz layers and likely deform by grain-size sensitive mechanisms including diffusion-accommodated grain boundary sliding.

Microstructures characterized by a quartz-rich matrix and interconnected phyllosilicates undergo quartz recrystallization by high temperature grain boundary migration and are dominated by prism a slip. In contrast, fine-grained polyphase microstructures record quartz recrystallization dominated by subgrain rotation and activation of rhomb a and basal a slip systems. We propose transient hardening occurs in quartz-dominated regions as quartz with a strong Y-axis maximum undergoes the switch from prism a easy slip to basal a easy slip during cooling, and thus partitions strain into interconnected phyllosilicate layers. In response, interconnected phyllosilicate layers undergo mechanical comminution, becoming increasingly mixed by grain-size sensitive creep processes to form polyphase layers as they accommodate an increased proportion of strain. This transition from quartz-rich matrix with phyllosilicate interconnected weak layers to fine-grained, polyphase weak layers could be of first-order importance in strain localization within polyphase mylonitic and ultramylonitic rocks.

How to cite: Lusk, A. and Platt, J.: Development of interconnected fine-grained polyphase networks during progressive exhumation of a shear zone, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12715,, 2020.

EGU2020-19297 | Displays | TS2.3

On the causes of brittle nucleation of shear zones: the example of Cap de Creus, Eastern Pyrenees (Spain)

Claudio Rosenberg, Loïc Labrousse, Nicolas Landry, Elena Druguet, and Jordi Carreras

The area of Cap de Creus, at the eastern termination of the Axial Zone of the Pyrenean Belt, exposes some of the most famous outcrops of ductile shear zones and shear zone networks (Carreras, 2001). Recent studies proposed that the nucleation and growth of such shear zones may have taken place by brittle processes (Fusseis et al., 2006; Fusseis and Handy, 2008).

The present study investigates the geometrical relationships between fracture systems and some shear zones, the deformation temperature of these shear zones, and the processes leading to the nucleation and growth of shear zones along fracture planes. We selected two areas of the Cap de Creus, the Cala d’Agulles, and the Punta de Cap de Creus, because they are most intensely dissected by subparallel sets of shear zones and fractures. The orientation of the average shear zone planes is sub-parallel to the orientation of the major set of fractures, and the great extent and close spacing of some shear zones that we characterized by aerial photos from a drone, is similar to the distribution and extent of the fracture planes. These observations, in addition to those of Fusseis et al. (2006) suggest that the shear zones nucleated on previous fracture planes. 

These fractures are surrounded by haloes of nearly 1 cm thickness affecting the fabric of the country rock, an amphibolite-facies, biotite-andalusite bearing schist. Microscopic observations show that the haloes correspond to the wide-spread presence of thin (less than 2µm thickness) phosphate seams coating the grain boundaries, preferentially those oriented at low angle to the fracture plane, and to the alteration of plagioclase to white mica and sericite, and to the growth of tourmaline, also related to grain boundaries and micro-fractures.

Deformation temperature in the shear zones is assessed by white mica thermometry and pseudosections. The calculated T of at least 350-400° C is consistent with qualitative observations showing the presence of stable biotite within very fine-grained (<< 10 µm) shear bands and the recrystallization of quartz by rotation of sub-grain boundaries.

In summary, fractures formed at high temperature, possibly associated with the intrusion of tourmaline-bearing pegmatites and fluids, which predate the ductile mylonitic event (Druguet, 2001; Van Lichtervelde et al., 2017). Fluids altered and weakened a volume of approximately 2 cm thickness all along the fracture planes, whose extent may reach > 100 m. The inferred, relatively high T of ca.  400° C indicates that fracturing is not due to the proximity of the brittle-ductile transition. In addition, no significant micro-fracturing of the mylonites is observed in thin sections. Therefore, fracturing precedes the ductile shear zones, which nucleate on some of the “inherited” sets of thin, planar, weakened structures, the large majority of which remains undeformed. These observations raise the question on whether nucleation and propagation of ductile shear zones is mechanically unrelated to brittle fracturing. Their weakening of planar structures would originate from fluid migration along fracture planes, but fracturing would no longer be active during ductile deformation.

How to cite: Rosenberg, C., Labrousse, L., Landry, N., Druguet, E., and Carreras, J.: On the causes of brittle nucleation of shear zones: the example of Cap de Creus, Eastern Pyrenees (Spain), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19297,, 2020.

EGU2020-9155 | Displays | TS2.3

Carbon ordering in an aseismic shear zone: implications for crustal weakening and Raman spectroscopy

Lauren Kedar, Clare Bond, and David Muirhead

Multi-layered stratigraphic sequences present ample opportunity for the study of strain localization and its complexities. By constraining mechanisms of crustal weakening, it is possible to gain a sounder understanding of the dynamic evolution of the Earth’s crust, especially when applied to realistic, field-based scenarios. One such mechanism is that of strain-related carbon ordering. This is the process whereby the amorphous nanostructure of fossilized organic matter contained within the rock is progressively organized towards a more sheet-like structure, similar to that of graphite. One common method of studying this process is through Raman spectroscopy. This is a non-destructive tool which makes use of the relative positions and intensities of two key spectral peaks, where one peak represents graphitic carbon and the other disordered (or amorphous) carbon. The intensity ratio between these two peaks suggests the degree to which the carbon has progressed from its original kerogen-like structure towards that of graphite. This progression can be due to increasing temperature or increasing strain, and until now, these two contributory factors have been difficult to separate, particularly in field examples.

Previous field-based studies have focused on carbon ordering on fault planes, while experimental studies have monitored the effects of strain-related ordering in organic carbon on both fault surfaces and more distributed shear zones. These studies confirmed the occurrence of strain-related ordering at seismic rates, particularly in the form of graphitization of carbon. However, these experiments showed the effects of strain-related ordering at aseismic rates to be limited when distributed shear zones were considered, in part due to the geological timescales required to emulate true conditions.

In this study, Raman spectroscopy is used to compare the relative nanostructural order of organic carbon within a recumbent isoclinal fold formed of interbedded limestones and marls. The central, overturned fold limb forms a 170m wide, 1km long aseismic shear zone, with evidence of increased strain recorded in calcite grains relative to the upper and lower limbs. Raman spectroscopy intensity ratios (I[d]/I[g]) are compared across the fold, showing a marked 23% decrease in the overturned limb. Such a decrease in I[d]/I[g] suggests increased carbon ordering within the overturned limb, which in combination with evidence for increased strain in calcite, suggests that the carbon ordering here is derived directly from strain-related ordering. This has important implications. We infer, from previous studies, that strain-related carbon ordering encourages further strain partitioning in carbonaceous material, and may enhance zones of weakness in the rock. This ordering in aseismic shear zones has so far been unreported in nature, and so our field-based results are significant in supporting previous experimental evidence for this phenomenon. Our results also have implications for understanding dynamic crustal evolution, and will play an important role in the development of Raman thermobarometry, especially since current methods do not distinguish between strain-related and temperature-related ordering.

How to cite: Kedar, L., Bond, C., and Muirhead, D.: Carbon ordering in an aseismic shear zone: implications for crustal weakening and Raman spectroscopy, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9155,, 2020.

EGU2020-13110 | Displays | TS2.3

The flow-to-sliding transition in crystalline magma

Zhipeng Qin and Jenny Suckale

Magmatic flows are rarely, if ever, entirely free of crystals. If these crystals distribute in an approximately homogeneous way, their impact on flow can be captured by defining a suitable effective viscosity for the suspension. A spatially heterogeneous crystal distribution, however, can build up to the degree that the flow behavior of the crystal-bearing magma becomes substantially different from that of a pure melt. One example is the transition from flow to sliding, in which the deformation in the crystalline magma is concentrated almost entirely in a thin interfacial layer as opposed to being distributed in a typical flow profile throughout the domain. The transition is particularly consequential for the large-scale dynamics of the system, because it can be associated with transport rates increasing by orders of magnitudes.


Most conduit models associate the flow-to-sliding transition with a critical crystal fraction, often in the 60% range. Here, we hypothesize that the flow to sliding transition can occur at crystal fraction as low as a few percents under certain conditions. We test our hypothesis by numerically reproducing existing laboratory measurements of the effective viscosity of plagioclase-bearing basalt in a rotational viscometer. We utilize a direct numerical method to resolve the interactions between the crystals and the magmatic melt at the scale of individual interfaces in 2D. Our numerical approach only requires assumptions about the pure phase including the crystal fraction and crystal shape. All phase interactions and their aggregate effect on the flow emerge self-consistently from the simulation itself. 


Our simulations suggest that the behavior of multiphase suspensions at low fluid Reynolds number is highly variable and depends sensitively on the characteristics of the immersed phases and the geometry of the flow domain. We show that there is no meaningful dilute limit in which the phase interactions can be neglected or captured by adjusting the effective rheology of the suspension in a way that removes dependencies on the properties of the immersed phase. Since our models operate at the scale of individual crystals, our model results are testable in both field and laboratory settings. In fact, they suggest that observations of microstructure provide valuable constraints on the large scale flow dynamics at the time. Particularly important is the degree of preferential crystal alignment and the existence of force chains or crystal clusters.

How to cite: Qin, Z. and Suckale, J.: The flow-to-sliding transition in crystalline magma, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13110,, 2020.

EGU2020-13160 | Displays | TS2.3

Influence of initial preferred orientations on strain localisation and fold patterns in non-linear viscous anisotropic materials

Tamara de Riese, Paul D. Bons, Enrique Gomez-Rivas, Albert Griera, Maria-Gema Llorens, and Ilka Weikusat

Deformation localisation in rocks can lead to a variety of structures, such as shear zones and shear bands that can range from grain to crustal scale, from discrete and isolated zones to anastomosing networks. The heterogeneous strain field can furthermore result in a wide range of highly diverse fold geometries.

We present a series of numerical simulations of the simple-shear deformation of an intrinsically anisotropic non-linear viscous material with a single maximum crystal preferred orientation (CPO) in dextral simple shear. We use the Viscoplastic Full-Field Transform (VPFFT) crystal plasticity code (e.g. Lebensohn & Rollett, 2020) coupled with the modelling platform ELLE ( to achieve very high strains. The VPFFT-approach simulates viscoplastic deformation by dislocation glide, taking into account the different available slip systems and their critical resolved shear stresses. The approach is well suited for strongly non-linear anisotropic materials (de Riese et al., 2019). We vary the anisotropic behaviour of the material from isotropic to highly anisotropic (according to the relative critical resolved shear stress required to activate the different slip systems), as well as the orientation of the initial single maximum orientation, which we vary from parallel to perpendicular to the shear plane. To visualize deformation structures, we use passive markers, for which we also systematically vary the initial orientation.

At relatively low strains the amount of strain rate localisation and resulting deformation structures highly depend on the initial single maximum orientation in the material in all anisotropic models. Three regimes can be recognised: distributed shear localisation, synthetic shear bands and antithetic shear bands. However, at very high strains localisation behaviour always tends to converge to a similar state, independent of the initial orientation of the anisotropy.

In rocks, shear localisation is often detected by the deflection and/or folding of layers, which may be parallel to the anisotropy (e.g. cleavage formed by aligned mica), or by deflection/deformation of passive layering, such as original sedimentary layers. The resulting fold patterns vary strongly, depending on the original orientation of layering relative to the deformation field. This can even result in misleading structures that seem to indicate the opposite sense of shear. Most distinct deformation structures tend to form when the layering is originally parallel to the shear plane.


de Riese, T., Evans, L., Gomez-Rivas, E., Griera, A., Lebensohn, R.A., Llorens, M.-G., Ran, H., Sachau, T., Weikusat, I., Bons, P.D. 2019. Shear localisation in anisotropic, non-linear viscous materials that develop a CPO: A numerical study. J. Struct. Geol. 124, 81-90.

Lebensohn, R.A., Rollett, A.D. 2020. Spectral methods for full-field micromechanical modelling of polycrystalline materials. Computational Mat. Sci. 173, 109336.

How to cite: de Riese, T., Bons, P. D., Gomez-Rivas, E., Griera, A., Llorens, M.-G., and Weikusat, I.: Influence of initial preferred orientations on strain localisation and fold patterns in non-linear viscous anisotropic materials , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13160,, 2020.

EGU2020-45 | Displays | TS2.3

Ultrahigh resolution 3D imaging and characterisation of nanoscale pore structure in shales and its control on gas transport

Mohamed Garum, Paul Glover, Piroska Lorinczi, and Ali Hassanpour


Cost-effective and environmentally sensitive shale gas production requires detailed knowledge of the petrophysical characteristics of the shale from which the gas is extracted. Parameters such as the kerogen fraction, pore size distributions, porosity, permeability, the frackability of the rock and the degree to which natural fracturing already occurs are required in order to be able to estimate potential gas reserves and how easily it can be extracted. Innovative imaging techniques, including Focused Ion Beam Scanning Electron Microscopy (FIB-SEM) and Nanoscale X-Ray Tomography (nano-CT), can be used to characterise the microstructural properties of shale. Here we report using FIB-SEM serial sectioning and nano-CT on approximately cubic samples of side length about 25 µm. The resolution of the FIB-SEM scanning is approximately 20 nm, while that of the nano-CT is about 50 nm, providing between 125 and 1953 million voxels per scan. These ultra-high resolution techniques have been shown to be effective methods for the analysis and imaging of shale microstructure. Each technique can provide data over a different and separate range of scales, and with different resolutions. Results analysed so far indicate that pores which seem to be unconnected when imaged on a micrometre scale by micro-CT scanning, are connected by thin pathways when imaged at these higher resolutions. This nano-scale connectivity is responsible for the small but non-zero permeability of gas shales to gas flow, which is typically measured in the range 5 nD – 200 nD. The volume, size, aspect ratios, surface area to volume ratio and orientations have all been calculated from the scanned data as a function of scale. These data indicate an extremely complex, heterogeneous, anisotropic and multimodal pore nanostructure and microstructure for the shales, with structure at all scales contributing to both gas storage and gas flow. Further work analysing the connectivity of the microscale and nanoscale pore spaces within the rock is underway. We believe that the combination of nano-CT with FIB-SEM on the same sample has the potential for providing an enhanced understanding of shale microstructure, which is necessary for modelling elastic behaviour, gas storage, gas desorption and gas flow in gas shales.

Keywords: Gas shale, FIB-SEM, nano-CT, porosity, permeability, Kerogen, pore volume, size distribution, pore aspect ratio and surface area to pore volume.

How to cite: Garum, M., Glover, P., Lorinczi, P., and Hassanpour, A.: Ultrahigh resolution 3D imaging and characterisation of nanoscale pore structure in shales and its control on gas transport , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-45,, 2020.

Hydrocarbon exploration is extending from the shallowly buried to deeply buried strata with increasing demands for fossil fuels. The variable storage and percolation capacities that intrinsically depend on the pore geometry restrict the hydrocarbon recovery and displacement efficiency and trigger studies on the micro-scale pore structure, fluid flow capacity, and their controlling factors. Minerals within sandstone are the results of the coupling control of depositional factors and diagenetic alternations, which determine the microscopic pore geometry and subsequently affect the fluid flow capacity. In order to investigate the impacts of mineralogy on the pore structure and fluid flow capacity, integrated analyses including porosity and permeability measurements, casting thin section (CTS), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), pressure-controlled mercury porosimetry (PCP), rate-controlled mercury porosimetry (RCP), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) are conducted on the deeply buried sandstone samples in the Jurassic Sangonghe Formation of the Junggar Basin. Microscopic pore structure is characterized by the combination of SEM, CTS, PCP, and RCP and fractal theory. Fluid flow capacity is evaluated by the innovative application of film bound water model in NMR and mineralogy is quantitatively measured by XRD. The results indicate that the deeply buried sandstone is rich in quartz (54.2%), feldspar (25.1%), and clay (14.2%), with dominant kaolinite (5.04%) and chlorite (5.38%) cementation. The reservoir has a wide pore-throat diameter distribution with three peaks in the ranges 0.01–1, 10–80, and 200–1000 μm. Pores are tri-fractal and can be divided into micropores, mesopores, and macropores, with average porosity contributions of 50.11, 21.83, and 28.04%, respectively. The movable porosity of deeply buried sandstone ranges from 1.75 to 8.24%, primarily contributed by intergranular (avg. 2.34%) and intragranular pores (avg. 2.56%). Most of the fluids are movable in intergranular pores but are irreducible in intragranular pores. Correlation analyses between mineralogy and pore structure suggest that quartz provides preservation to intergranular porosity, which increases pore size and macropores porosity and reduces heterogeneity of the pore system. The influence of feldspar reverses and becomes poor owing to the simultaneous clay precipitation and complex roles of feldspar dissolution in microporosity. Chlorite, kaolinite, and illite, all act as destructions to intergranular porosity. They enhance the mesopores and micropores porosities, reduce the pore size, and increase the microscopic heterogeneities of the macropores, micropores, and whole pore system. The relationships between mineralogy and fluid flow capacity indicate that quartz is favorable for the fluid flow capacity, but feldspar and clay play negative roles. The reversed impacts of quartz and feldspar lay in their opposite controls on pore size. However, both pore size and hydrophilia should be taken into account when considering the effects of clay minerals. These negative effects are associated with types, contents, and hydrophilic degrees of clay minerals, in which I/S and illite exhibit the strongest negative impacts. The fluid flow in the intergranular and intragranular pores is generally enhanced by higher quartz content, but reduced by higher clay content. Irreducible fluids in the intergranular and intragranular pores are determined by chlorite and kaolinite contents, respectively.

How to cite: Qiao, J., Zeng, J., and Feng, X.: Impacts of mineralogy on micro-scale pore structure and fluid flow capacity of deeply buried sandstone reservoirs, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-1516,, 2020.

EGU2020-6968 | Displays | TS2.3

Synchrotron multi-modal, multi-scale chemical and structural imaging of vein-bearing shales

Christoph E. Schrank, Michael W. M. Jones, Cameron M. Kewish, and Grant A. van Riessen

The coupling between fluid transport, chemical reactions, and deformation constitutes one of the frontiers of geoscientific research. From an analytical perspective, a fundamental challenge is posed by the fact that sub-nanometre- to micrometre-scale structures play a vital role in the macroscopic (centimetre- to metre-scale) response of deforming, reacting, fluid-bearing rocks. Sample analysis with conventional laboratory techniques quickly becomes prohibitively expensive and laborious when more than four orders of magnitude in length scales need to be resolved. This issue is particularly challenging in very fine-grained rocks such as mylonites and shales.


Here, we investigate calcite-vein-bearing shales to illustrate how synchrotron X-ray fluorescence microscopy, ptychography, and small- and wide-angle transmission scattering can be used for the quantitative multi-scale analysis of micro- and nano-textures in rock. These analytical techniques are applied to thin sections or thin rock slabs on the centimetre-scale and provide information on length scales from hundreds of micrometres down to angstroms. Therefore, the considered array of synchrotron techniques covers up to eight orders of magnitude in length scale in terms of chemical and structural information. In our case study, we demonstrate how this suite of analytical techniques can be employed to reveal, for example, the relative timing of mineralisation events, trace-element chemistry, texture, and the structural width of fluid pathways such as grain boundaries.

How to cite: Schrank, C. E., Jones, M. W. M., Kewish, C. M., and van Riessen, G. A.: Synchrotron multi-modal, multi-scale chemical and structural imaging of vein-bearing shales, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6968,, 2020.

EGU2020-21109 | Displays | TS2.3

Weakening mechanisms and the role of easy slip horizons in thrust belt development: a microstructural approach

Aimee Guida Barroso, Eddie Dempsey, Bob Holdsworth, and Nicola De Paola

The Late Silurian Moine Thrust Zone (MTZ) of the NW Highlands of Scotland has long been fundamental to the understanding of the nature and processes that occur during thrust tectonics in the upper continental crust. This complex imbrication zone formed during final Scandian stages of the Caledonian orogeny when collision of Baltica and Laurentia led to WNW-ESE tectonic foreshortening of >100km. The MTZ juxtaposed greenschist to amphibolite facies Neoproterozoic metamorphic rocks of the Moine Supergroup over sequences of little metamorphosed Cambro-Ordovician and Neoproterozoic sedimentary rocks and their Neoarchean to Paleoproterozoic gneissic basement in a zone ranging from <1km to >20km wide.

The mechanical problems represented by thrust wedges being transported over such great distances without losing their internal cohesion has highlighted the role played by detachment structures and the need for mechanisms that create significant weakening along basal detachments that allow overthrusts to accommodate major horizontal displacements in the shallow crust. Field studies and use of section balancing techniques have highlighted that a substantial proportion of the displacement seems to be accommodated along detachments that follow specific stratigraphic levels.

Other than the Moine Thrust Mylonites and the mylonitised parts of the Cambrian Quartzites, relatively little is known about the grain scale deformation and potential weakening processes that have occurred in other parts of the MTZ. New lithological descriptions of the fault rocks and sedimentary protoliths observed in the Assynt, Durness and Eriboll areas are presented here and provide detailed microstructural evidence for the long-term weakening mechanisms that were operating at the time. These mechanisms are consistently related to the onset of grain size reduction, triggered by both chemical enhanced and geometric processes. These include feldspar alteration to fine phyllosilicates associated with cataclasis and dynamic recrystallization of quartz.

Pressure solution, evidenced by changes in the shape of minerals along cleavage surfaces and the presence of dissolution seams and caps, is widespread throughout the studied rock sequences. The profuse occurrence of this grain-scale mechanism makes it very likely that syn-deformational fluid-influx lead to the destruction of load bearing microstructural frameworks and the development of interconnected weak layers due to alteration, explaining the occurrence of detachments within impure layers of the predominantly quartzose Pipe Rock and Salterella Grit members. The progressive development of these interconnecting fine-grained weak layers resulting from incongruent diffusive mass transfer is enhanced in the more mineralogically heterogeneous units of the Cambro-Ordovician sedimentary sequence (in particular, Fucoid Beds dolomitic siltstones and Durness limestones) explaining the consistently observed slip localization in these horizons.

How to cite: Guida Barroso, A., Dempsey, E., Holdsworth, B., and De Paola, N.: Weakening mechanisms and the role of easy slip horizons in thrust belt development: a microstructural approach, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-21109,, 2020.

EGU2020-9086 | Displays | TS2.3

Graphitic material in fault zones: Implication for strain localization and rheological weakening

Shuyun Cao, Franz Neubauer, and Meixia Lv

Graphitic carbon exhibits a large range of structures and chemical compositions, from amorphous-like compounds to crystalline graphite. The graphitic carbon-bearing rocks are widely occurred in low- to high- grade metamorphic massif and fault zone. The carbonaceous material in the rock will gradually transform from an amorphous into an ordered crystalline structure by thermal metamorphism, which is called graphitization. The degree of graphitization is believed to be a reliable indicator of peak temperature conditions in the metamorphic rock. In many low-grade metamorphic rocks, graphitic carbon (e.g., soot, low-grade coal) is often associated with brittle fault gouge whereas in high-grade metamorphic rocks, graphitic carbon (crystalline granite) are most commonly seen in marble, schist or gneiss. In recent years, graphitic carbon-bearing rocks have been reported from natural fault zones (reviwers paper see Cao and Neubauer 2019 and references therein). The graphitic carbon grains in our samples tend to enrich in slip-surface or micro-shear zone with strain localization in fault, performed as dislocation glide of deformation. The graphite LPO shows slip system in the direction of basil <a> combined basil <a> slip and weak prism <a> slip systems, suggesting a low-temperature to a medium to high temperature deformation conditions, which is in consistent with the results of Raman Spectra of Carbonaceous material (RSCM) thermometry. We also proposed that the graphitic carbon formed in the rocks can significantly affect the mechanical properties of the fault during the process of faulting. This process can effectively cause reaction weakening and strain localization, which is thought to play an important role as solid lubrication in fault weakening.

How to cite: Cao, S., Neubauer, F., and Lv, M.: Graphitic material in fault zones: Implication for strain localization and rheological weakening, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9086,, 2020.

EGU2020-960 | Displays | TS2.3

Development of C- shear bands in brittle-ductile shear zones: Insights from analogue and numerical models.

Arnab Roy, Nandan Roy, Puspendu Saha, and Nibir Mandal

Development of brittle and brittle-ductile shear zones involve partitioning of large shear strains in bands, called C-shear bands (C-SB) nearly parallel to the shear zone boundaries. Our present work aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the rheological factors in controlling such SB growth in meter scale natural brittle- ductile shear zones observed in in Singbhum and Chotonagpur mobile belts.  The shear zones show C- SB at an angle of 0°- 5° with the shear zone boundary. We used analogue models, based on Coulomb and Viscoplastic rheology to reproduce them in experimental conditions.

These models produce dominantly Riedel (R) shear bands. We show a transition from R-shearing in conjugate to single sets at angles of ~15o by changing model materials. However, none of the analogue models produced C-SB, as observed in the field. To reconcile the experimental and field findings, numeral models have been used to better constrain the geometrical and rheological parameters. We simulate model shear zones replicating those observed in the field, which display two distinct zones: drag zone where the viscous strains dominate  and the core zone, where both viscous and plastic strains come into play.  Numerical model results suggest the formation of  C- SB for a specific rheological condition. We also show varying shear band patterns as a function of the thickness ratio between drag and core zones.

How to cite: Roy, A., Roy, N., Saha, P., and Mandal, N.: Development of C- shear bands in brittle-ductile shear zones: Insights from analogue and numerical models., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-960,, 2020.

EGU2020-3938 | Displays | TS2.3

On the Origin of Ultramylonites

Jacques Précigout

Deformation of lithospheric rocks regularly localizes into high-strain shear zones that include fine-grained ultramylonites. Occurring as quasi-straight layers of intimately mixed phases that often describe sharp transitions with the host rock, these structures may channelize fluid flow[1,2] and could serve as precursors for deep earthquakes[3]. However, although intensively documented, ultramylonites originate from still unknown processes. Here I focus on a mylonitic complex that includes numerous mantle ultramylonites in the Ronda peridotite (Spain). Among them, I was able to highlight one of their precursors that I better describe as a long and straight grain boundary, along which four-grain junctions are observed with randomly oriented grains of olivine and pyroxenes. This precursor starts from a pyroxene porphyroclast and extends to an incipient, weakly undulated ultramylonite, where intimate phase mixing arises with asymmetrical grain size distribution. While the finer grain size locates on one side, describing a sharp – but continuous – transition with the host rock, the grain size gradually increases towards the other side, giving rise to a smooth transition. All phases have a very weak lattice preferred orientation (LPO) in the ultramylonite, which strongly differs from the host rock where olivine is highly deformed with evidence of high dislocation densities and a strong LPO. Altogether, these features shed light on the origin of mantle ultramylonites that I attribute to a migrating grain boundary, the sliding of which continuously produces new grains by phase nucleation, probably at the favor of transient four-grain junctions. Nucleated grains then grow and progressively detach from the precursor as it keeps on migrating depending on the dislocation densities in the host rock. Although such an unusual grain boundary remains to be understood in terms of source mechanism, these findings provide new constraints on the appearing and development of ultramylonites.


[1] Fusseis, F., Regenauer-Lieb, K., Liu, J., Hough, R. M. & De Carlo, F. Creep cavitation can establish a dynamic granular fluid pump in ductile shear zones. Nature 459: 974–977 (2009)

[2] Précigout, J., Prigent, C., Palasse, L. & Pochon, A. Water pumping in mantle shear zones. Nat. commun. 8: 15736, (2017)

[3] White, J. C. Paradoxical pseudotachylyte – Fault melt outside the seismogenic zone. J. Struct. Geol. 38: 11-20 (2012)

How to cite: Précigout, J.: On the Origin of Ultramylonites, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3938,, 2020.

EGU2020-3508 | Displays | TS2.3

Processes, properties, and microstructures in faults active at retrograde conditions

Ake Fagereng, Christian Stenvall, Matt Ikari, Johann Diener, and Chris Harris

Faults that are active at retrograde conditions tend to contain metastable fault rock assemblages that are prone to undergo fluid-consuming reactions. These reactions typically lead to growth of minerals that are viscously and frictionally weaker than the reactants. This is illustrated in the well-studied Outer Hebrides Fault Zone (OHFZ) of Scotland, and we add observations from the Kuckaus Mylonite Zone (KMZ), Namibia. In both locations, deformation is localised in anastomosing networks of phyllosilicates that developed during deformation of amphibolite and/or granulite assemblages at greenschist facies conditions. Microstructures of these phyllonites show generally well aligned phyllosilicates wrapping around fractured feldspars and quartz with features indicating dislocation creep.

In the KMZ, further localization occurred in ultramylonites within the mylonite zone. These are characterised by a similar phyllosilicate proportion to surrounding mylonites, but lack interconnected phyllosilicate networks. Instead, they contain a very fine-grained assemblage of quartz, feldspar, and phyllosilicate, where both quartz and feldspar lack a CPO. We interpret this assemblage as having deformed through grain-size sensitive creep, at lower shear stress than the surrounding mylonite. It is possible that the ultramylonites developed by dismembering an earlier interconnected weak phase microstructure with increasing finite strain, as has been suggested experimentally by Cross and Skemer (2017).

Whereas these exhumed fault zones deformed at greenschist facies conditions, continued activity would exhume similar fault rocks to shallower depth. We explored frictional properties and microstructure of greenschist facies fault rock at low temperature conditions by deforming chlorite-amphibole-epidote assemblages in single-direct shear at room temperature and 10 MPa normal stress under fluid saturated conditions. As inferred at greater depth, presence of chlorite weakens and promotes aseismic creep along these experimental faults. Presence of chlorite also correlates with the development of striations on fault surfaces. Lack of chlorite, on the other hand, leads to velocity-weakening behaviour and, in epidotite, a fault surface containing very fine grains that do not develop when ≥ 50 % chlorite is present. We suggest that chlorite supresses wear at contact asperities between stronger minerals, and therefore also supresses velocity-weakening behaviour.

Overall, we see that growth of retrograde phyllosilicates lead to profound weakening, strain localisation, and frictional stabilisation of major shear zones, from greenschist facies to near-surface conditions. These processes and properties are, however, reliant on external fluids to allow hydration reactions in otherwise relatively dry host rocks. From scattered syn-deformational quartz veins, in the KMZ, such fluids appear to be of surface origin, whereas in the OHFZ, fluids were likely of a deeper, metamorphic or magmatic origin. Ready incorporation of such fluids into retrograde minerals would prevent substantial or widespread fluid overpressures from developing. These fluid sources are similar to present-day inferred fluid regimes in the Alpine and San Andreas Faults, respectively. We speculate that the variable slip behaviour seen on active retrograde faults relate to their degree of retrogression, and the development of time and strain-dependent microstructures with specific strengths and behaviours.

How to cite: Fagereng, A., Stenvall, C., Ikari, M., Diener, J., and Harris, C.: Processes, properties, and microstructures in faults active at retrograde conditions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3508,, 2020.

EGU2020-7480 | Displays | TS2.3

Microstructural evolution of amphibolite-eclogite facies quartz veins under low greenschist facies deformation condition

Michel Bestmann, Benjamin Huet, Bernhard Grasemann, and Giorgio Pennacchioni

Quartz veins in poly-metamorphic settings often accommodate the latest deformation state and therefore can provide important information. Identification of microfabric (microstructure and crystallographic preferred orientation, CPO) evolution of quartz during mylonitization, and especially of the grain-scale interplay between brittle and crystal-plastic processes, has different relevant implications: e.g., on understanding the efficiency of fluid mobility through deforming quartz that can dramatically influence the rheology and the degree of chemical exchange. However, in order to interpret the microstructure and the related deformation processes it is necessary to relate these especially to the deformation temperature. Particularly the CPO and the Ti-in-qtz geothermometry is used to constrain the deformation temperature. However, both methods have to be applied with great caution because even when many times used some fundamental processes are not fully understood yet.


Here we present results from deformed quartz veins from the Prijakt Nappe (Autroalpine Unit, Schober Mountains, Central Eastern Alps). These veins localized ductile shear and eventually seismic faulting (recorded by the occurrence of pseudotachylytes) within Eo-Alpine eclogite-facies shists. The veins formed shortly after the eclogitic peak, but the temperature of their deformation remains unconstrained. CL imaging reveals critical details for understanding the role of microfracturing and fluid-rock interaction during initial stages of shear localization, the onset of dynamic recrystallization and the resetting of the Ti-in-quartz geochemistry. Even when optical-light-microscopy and EBSD analysis indicate crystal plastic deformation by subgrain rotation CL and orientation contrast (OC) imaging gives evidence of brittle stage of deformation at least for some of the deformation microstructure. Microshear zones show a bulk dark-CL, but still bright tones in cores of new recrystallized grains similar to the CL signature of the host coarse quartz crystals. CL dark tones also match with the pattern of subgrain boundaries. This reflects fluid permeability pathways along subgrain and grain boundaries (identified by widespread fluid inclusions) and the associated partial resetting of Ti concentrations. The CPO of the new grains within the micro-shear zones rotate with the sense of shear around the kinematic Y-axis and cannot be related to the activity of specific slip systems. In contrast the partial single girdle of c-axis within the ultramylonite with its elongated substructured grains and its characteristic layered microstructure can be related to the activity of several slip systems. Misorientation axis analysis indicates that prism




How to cite: Bestmann, M., Huet, B., Grasemann, B., and Pennacchioni, G.: Microstructural evolution of amphibolite-eclogite facies quartz veins under low greenschist facies deformation condition, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7480,, 2020.

Stress and strain are different physical entities. Do the stress and strain determined from e-twins in a sample of polycrystalline calcite have similar principal orientations and similar shape ratios? Köpping et al. (2019) tackled this question by applying Turner’s (1953) classical method of paleostress analysis to natural data. However, despite the assumption of the method, the orientations of P- and T-axes of an e-twin lamella do not have a one-to-one correspondence with the principal orientations of the stress that formed the lamella. And, the method cannot determine a shape ratio. Another difficulty arises when one tackles the question: Natural calcite has usually been subjected to polyphase tectonics with different stress conditions. One has to separate stresses and to evaluate corresponding strains from a sample. Once lamellae are grouped according to the stresses, the strain achieved by the formation of a group of twin lamellae is easily evaluated by the method of Conel (1962) if the total strain represented by a group is small.

The present authors tackled the question by combining Conel’s strain analysis method with a novel method of paleostress analysis of mechanical twins, which clusters the directional data of e-twins by means of a statistical mixture model and determines stresses for each group of data. And, the appropriate number of stresses is determined by means of Bayesian information criterion. The method also determines the probabilities of each lamella to be formed by the stresses, which are called the memberships of the lamella. The strain achieved under a stress condition can be computed using the memberships. We applied this integrated stress-strain analysis method to Data Sets I and II from two calcite veins in a Miocene forearc basin deposit in central Japan. Since the sampling area was close to a triple-trench junction, the young formation has experienced polyphase tectonics.

As a result, we obtained the consistent stress and strains from both of the data sets. Three stresses were obtained from Data Set I, and the corresponding strains were 0.17, 0.25 and 0.13%. Two stresses were obtained from Data Set II, and the strains were 0.39 and 0.42%. The stress and strain determined from the data sets for each deformation phase were consistent with each other. That is, the principal axes had difference as small as < 20 degrees, and the shape ratios of stress and strain had also similar values. It is not straightforward to generalize this result, but both the stress and strain analyses seem to give appropriate results, providing that polyphase deformations are coped with.

How to cite: Wakamori, K. and Yamaji, A.: The integrated stress-strain analysis of calcite twins: Consistent stress and strain determined from natural data, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12819,, 2020.

EGU2020-13523 | Displays | TS2.3

Dissolution precipitation creep as a process for the strain localisation in gabbro

Amicia Lee, Holger Stunitz, Matheus Ariel Battisti, and Jiri Konopasek

Strain localisation and fabric development in the lower crust is controlled by the active deformation mechanisms. Understanding the driving forces of such deformation aids in quantifying the stresses and rates of the deformation processes. Here we show that diffusion creep plays a major role in deformation of gabbro lenses at upper amphibolite facies conditions. The Kågen gabbro in the North Norwegian Caledonides intruded the Vaddas Nappe at 439 Ma at pressures of 7-9 kbar, temperatures of 650-900°C (depths of ∼26-34 km). The Kågen gabbro on south Arnøya is made up of undeformed gabbro lenses with sheared margins wrapping around them. This contribution analyses the evolution of the microstructures and fabric of the low strain gabbro to high strain margins. Microstructural and textural data indicate that preferential crystal growth of amphibole grains in the extension direction has produced the deformation microstructure and the CPO. Dissolution precipitation creep is inferred to be the dominant deformation mechanism, where dissolution of the gabbro took place in reacting phases of clinopyroxene and plagioclase, and precipitation took place in the form of new minerals: amphibole, garnet and zoisite. Synchronous deformation and mineral reactions of clinopyroxene suggests mafic rocks can become mechanically weak during the general transformation weakening process, i.e. the interaction of mineral reaction and deformation by diffusion creep. Deformation and metamorphic reaction were both important transformation processes during diffusion creep deformation of the margins of the gabbro lenses. The weakening is directly connected to a transformation process that facilitates diffusion creep deformation of strong minerals (pyroxene, garnet, zoisite) at far lower stresses than dislocation creep. Initially strong lithologies can become weak, provided that reactions can proceed during deformation, the transformation process itself is an important weakening mechanism in mafic (and other) rocks, facilitating deformation at low differential stresses.

How to cite: Lee, A., Stunitz, H., Battisti, M. A., and Konopasek, J.: Dissolution precipitation creep as a process for the strain localisation in gabbro, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13523,, 2020.

EGU2020-8851 | Displays | TS2.3

Microstructure evolution of plagioclase-hosted Fe-Ti-oxide microinclusions in oceanic gabbro

Olga Ageeva, Olga Pilipenko, Alexey Pertsev, and Rainer Abart

Microinclusions of Fe-Ti-oxides in rock-forming plagioclase are protected from subsea-floor alterations by the silicate matrix and are stable carriers of the paleomagnetic record of oceanic gabbros. We studied plagioclase-hosted microinclusions in oceanic gabbro (“gabbro 1241” from the Vema Lithospheric section, Mid-Atlantic ridge, Pertsev et al., 2015) with a complex petrogenetic history. Important events in the gabbro evolution caused consecutive transformations of the micro-inclusions and presumably affected their paleomagnetic records.

The earliest generation of the microinclusions was present as ulvospinel and presumably titanomagnetite which were probably formed by sub-solidus oxidation exsolution of early-magmatic plagioclase (An#42-45). An increase of the anorthite component around the early generation of microinclusions to typical values of late-magmatic plagioclase (An#53) suggest involvement of the late-magmatic fluid accompanying residual melt at 800-900°С (Pertsev et al., 2015). Subsequently, the gabbro was locally affected by hydrothermal alteration at about 600°С as a result of interaction of the gabbro with reduced brine containing 20-21% NaCl. The reducing conditions of this process ensured a “non-oxidative” character and primarily cooling driven exsolution of the microinclusions and transformation of the titanomagnetite microinclusions into ulvospinel-magnetite (“Usp-Mt1”) intergrowths at about 500°С, which is close or higher than the Curie temperature (Tc) of the exsolving titanomagnetite but lower than the Tc of the newly forming Mt1, and the acquired magnetisation may be referred to chemical remanence. The further evolution of the micro-inclusions correlates with low-temperature hydrothermal alteration induced by inflow of seawater-derived fluids during tectonic unroofing of the lithospheric section (Pertsev et al., 2015). The homogeneous ulvospinel inclusions and ulvospinel of the “Usp-Mt1”-inclusions were replaced by “Ilm-Mt2” -aggregates under more oxidizing conditions: 3 Fe2TiO4(Ulv) + 0.5 O2= 3 FeTiO3(Ilm) + Fe3O4(Mt2). The Mt1 was more stable to increase of fO2 that resulted in simultaneous presence of the “Ilm-Mt2”-, “Mt1/Ilm-Mt2“- and “Usp-Mt1” -inclusions with two generations of magnetic phases (magnetite) within a single plagioclase grains.

Thus, despite of protection by silicate matrix the microinclusions of Fe-Ti-oxides in rock-forming plagioclases evolve under the influence of petrogenetic processes. It is important to note that bulk-rock AF demagnetization of 14 specimens (extracted from “gabbro-1241“) in the interval 100-250 Oersted (Oe) and 300-700 Oe revealed both moderately-grouped (k=27.4) and variable (deviated with angle 40-104°) directional components of magnetisation, which may have resulted from the presence of different generations of magnetite. Further magnetic investigation of separates of plagioclase single grains will allow to evaluate capacities of plagioclase-hosted Fe-Ti-micro-inclusions to save initial and “newfound” paleomagnetic information and to serve as stable sources of paleomagnetic record in regions of mid-oceanic ridges.

Funding by RFBR project 18-55-14003 and FWF project I 3998-N29 is acknowledged.

Pertsev, A. N., Aranovich, L. Y., Prokofiev, V. Y., Bortnikov, N. S., Cipriani, A., Simakin, S. S., & Borisovskiy, S. E. (2015). Signatures of residual melts, magmatic and seawater-derived fluids in oceanic lower-crust gabbro from the Vema lithospheric section, Central Atlantic. Journal of Petrology, 56(6), 1069-1088.

How to cite: Ageeva, O., Pilipenko, O., Pertsev, A., and Abart, R.: Microstructure evolution of plagioclase-hosted Fe-Ti-oxide microinclusions in oceanic gabbro, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8851,, 2020.

EGU2020-5297 | Displays | TS2.3

A database for the seismic properties of slow spreading mid-ocean ridges gabbros

Luiz F. G. Morales, Maël Allard, and Benoit Ildefonse

Gabbros are the main component of the oceanic crust and represent ~2/3 of the total magmatic crustal thickness. At the interface between magmatic, tectonic and hydrothermal processes, gabbros from slow spreading ridges may have a complex mineralogy and microstructural evolution. This includes structures that vary from purely magmatic fabrics, with layering and magmatic alignment of minerals, to rocks deformed from subsolidus temperatures to the lower-T brittle-ductile conditions. Such a variation is normally accompanied with changes in mineralogy, microstructures and crystallographic preferred orientations (CPO) of the main phases of these rocks, which in turn affect their seismic properties. Here we present a database of the CPO-derived seismic properties of 70 samples collected during the IODP Expedition 360 (site U1473). Initial results show that the dominant phases are plagioclase and clinopyroxene[MOU1] , and different samples may have different contents of olivine, enstatite, magnetite, ilmenite, chlorite and amphibole. Maximum velocities can be either parallel to the strongest concentration of (010) poles of plagioclase or olivine/clinopyroxene [001], depending on the proportions between these phases. Anisotropy of P waves vary from ~5% in the more isotropic gabbros with weak magmatic fabric to a maximum of ~10% in more mylonitic terms. A similar effect is observed for the S-waves. Destructive interference between plagioclase CPO vs. clinopyroxene/olivine reducing anisotropy is possibly observed. This is because the maximum Vp in a foliated gabbro is parallel to the maximum concentration of poles to (010), and perpendicular to olivine and clinopyroxene. As the lineation in our gabbros is generally marked by olivine and clinopyroxene [001] (instead of the fast direction [100]), this possibly cause anisotropy reduction. When present in the more mylonitized gabbros, amphibole has strong CPOs and help to increase the general anisotropy of P and S waves. The elastic constants calculated from these aggregates will be used as input for more physically robust calculations using differential effective medium approaches to better understand the effect of melt inclusions in these rocks by the time of their deformation in the lower crust.


How to cite: Morales, L. F. G., Allard, M., and Ildefonse, B.: A database for the seismic properties of slow spreading mid-ocean ridges gabbros, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5297,, 2020.

EGU2020-10312 | Displays | TS2.3

Strain localization in abyssal peridotites from a magma-starved mid-ocean ridge: a microstructural study

Manon Bickert, Mathilde Cannat, Andréa Tommasi, Suzon Jammes, and Luc Lavier

Detachment faults are large offset normal faults that exhume mantle-derived rocks on the seafloor at slow spreading ridges. They are assumed to root at the base of the brittle lithosphere. Magma, if present, can help localize strain at the base of the axial brittle lithosphere by its own presence or crystallization of weaker phases such as plagioclase. This is the case of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where ductile shear zones are preferentially formed in and next to magmatic veins (Boschi et al., 2006; Cannat, 1991; Cannat & Casey, 1995; Ceuleneer & Cannat, 1997; Dick et al., 2002; Hansen et al., 2013; Picazo et al., 2012, Schroeder & John, 2004).

Here we focus of a nearly amagmatic case, the eastern part of the Southwest Indian Ridge (SWIR). Partially serpentinized peridotites recovered from dredging on and off axis record variable degrees of a heterogeneous high stress deformation. Orthopyroxene is primarily brittle (kinks, fractures), while olivine displays a wide range of plastic to semi-brittle deformation, ranging from weak to strong with development of extensively recrystallized anastomosing microshear zones. These microshear zones, which are a few mm to cm wide, represent the highest strain localization recorded in these samples. No further evidence of high strain localization, such as high temperature mylonites, has been recovered in this area. The fine-grained microshear zones are preferentially located along orthopyroxene grains or around kinked olivines. Both represent stronger grains (rheological contrast at the grains scale) that produce stress concentrations. Rock-scale thermo-mechanical models using orthopyroxene and olivine flow laws reproduce the observations: ductile shear zones in olivine also initiate preferentially next to brittle orthopyroxene.

We propose that this deformation is linked to the rooting of the detachment faults at depth, where an anastomozed network of microshear zones localizes strain at the base of the lithosphere, allowing the exhumation of variably deformed rocks.

How to cite: Bickert, M., Cannat, M., Tommasi, A., Jammes, S., and Lavier, L.: Strain localization in abyssal peridotites from a magma-starved mid-ocean ridge: a microstructural study, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10312,, 2020.

EGU2020-19034 | Displays | TS2.3

Reaction-induced strain localisation in garnet pyroxenites during mantle corner flow: an example from the Ulten Zone (Eastern Alps, N Italy)

Stefano Zanchetta, Luca Menegon, Luca Pellegrino, Simone Tumiati, and Nadia Malaspina

In the Ulten Zone (Tonale nappe, Eastern Alps, N Italy), numerous peridotite bodies occur within high-grade crustal rocks. Peridotites show a transition from coarse protogranular spinel-lherzolites to fine-grained mylonitic garnet-amphibole peridotites (Obata and Morten, 1987). Pyroxenites veins and dikes, transposed along the peridotite foliation, show a similar evolution from coarse garnet-free websterites to fine-grained garnet + amphibole clinopyroxenites (Morten and Obata, 1983). This evolution has been interpreted to reflect cooling and pressure increase of pyroxenites and host peridotites from spinel- (1200 °C, 1.3-1.6 GPa) to garnet-facies conditions (850 °C and 2.8 GPa) within the mantle corner flow (Nimis and Morten, 2000).

The newly formed garnet occurs as exsolution within porphyroclastic, high-T pyroxenes, and crystallises along the pyroxenite and peridotite foliation.

Textural evidence and crystallographic orientation data indicate that the transition from spinel- to garnet-facies conditions was assisted by intense shearing and deformation. Pyroxene porphyroclasts in garnet clinopyroxenites show well-developed crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO), high frequency of low-angle misorientations, and non-random distribution of the low-angle misorientation axes. These features indicates that pyroxene porphyroclasts primarily deform by dislocation creep on the (100) [010] slip system. Dislocation creep is accompanied by subgrain rotation recrystallisation, which promotes the formation of new, smaller and equant pyroxene grains around porphyroclasts. The grain size reduction promotes a switch in the deformation mechanism from grain-size insensitive creep (i.e. dislocation creep) in the porphyroclasts to grain-size sensitive (GSS) creep in the small recrystallised grains. The switch from dislocation to GSS creep is accompanied not only by grain size reduction of pyroxenes, but also by the formation of garnet exsolutions in pyroxenes and garnet crystallisation along foliation. We suggest that garnet crystallisation triggers the pinning of the recrystallised matrix, stabilising the fine-grained microtexture for GSS creep process, and finally contributes to the rheological weakening of pyroxenites.

Pyroxenites and peridotites of Ulten Zone thus offer a unique opportunity to investigate the effects of mantle deformation and weakening on the processes that control the material exchange between crust and mantle at subduction zones.


Morten, L., & Obata, M. (1983). Bulletin de Minéralogie, 106(6), 775-780.

Nimis, P. & Morten, L. (2000). Journal of Geodynamics, 30(1-2), 93-115

Obata, M., & Morten, L. (1987). Journal of Petrology, 28(3), 599-623.

How to cite: Zanchetta, S., Menegon, L., Pellegrino, L., Tumiati, S., and Malaspina, N.: Reaction-induced strain localisation in garnet pyroxenites during mantle corner flow: an example from the Ulten Zone (Eastern Alps, N Italy), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-19034,, 2020.

EGU2020-18346 | Displays | TS2.3

Pressure dependence of olivine grain growth at upper mantle conditions

Filippe Ferreira, Marcel Thielmann, and Katharina Marquardt

The convective motion of Earth’s upper mantle is controlled by two main deformation mechanisms: grain size-insensitive dislocation creep and grain size sensitive diffusion creep. Grain size thus plays a key role in upper mantle deformation, as it has a significant impact on the viscosity of the upper mantle. Moreover, grain size also affects seismic velocities as well as seismic attenuation.

Despite the importance of grain size and its evolution during deformation, there is still a lack of experimental data on grain growth of olivine at upper mantle pressures. For this reason, we here investigate olivine grain growth at pressures ranging from 1 GPa to 12 GPa and temperatures from 1200 to 1400ºC. The experiments were done using piston cylinder and multi-anvil apparatuses. We used as a starting material olivine aggregates with small amounts of pyroxene (<10%) produced via sol-gel method.

Our results indicate that grain growth is reduced at increasing pressures.  This suggests that the enhanced grain growth due to the temperature increase with depth may be offset, thus facilitating a change from dislocation to diffusion creep in the deep upper mantle. This might have an important impact on the dynamics of the upper mantle.

How to cite: Ferreira, F., Thielmann, M., and Marquardt, K.: Pressure dependence of olivine grain growth at upper mantle conditions, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18346,, 2020.

EGU2020-9859 | Displays | TS2.3

The solid medium deformation apparatus – reloaded

Renée Heilbronner, Holger Stunitz, Jacques Précigout, and Hugues Raimbourg

Rock deformation experiments are used to compile mechanical data sets for minerals and rocks and to study microstructure and texture development.

The Griggs apparatus, a solid medium piston cylinder machine was designed about 60 years ago to investigate rock deformation mechanisms and rheology at elevated confining pressures. In a typical experiment today, the confining medium is NaCl, with confining pressures up to 3 GPa, temperatures up to 1100°C, and displacement rates between 10-8 and 10-2 ms-1 (equivalent to strain rates of 10-7 to 10-3 s-1). In axial tests, the cylindrical samples are 12 to 15 mm long with a diameter of 0.625 mm. In shearing test, split cylinder assemblies are used with 0.5 to 1 mm thick samples introduced along the 45° pre-cut. Reasonable total strains are limited to 30% axial shortening or shear strains of gamma 4. (Higher strains can be attained but are difficult to analyse mechanically. Unlike for gas rigs, torsion is not available for solid medium machines).

As of now, the operational fleet of solid medium deformation apparatus comprises worldwide over 20 machines in different labs (mainly in Europe, U.S.A. and Japan), providing the scientific community with an ever-growing rheological and microstructural data base.

In view of numerous developments in experimental design, as well as improvements of hardware and software for data acquisition and processing, the experimental community was recently invited to a two-day workshop, hosted by the experimental group of Orléans University. The main goal was to discuss the following points:

- how to further improve the apparatus, increase its scope and improve calibrations; 
- how to further improve data processing, and the precision and reliability of the results;
- how to maintain consistency among the labs and through time (backwards compatibility);
- how ensure compatibility of results from axial and shearing experiments;
- how to make the data available to the community.

The poster represents a condensed report of the meeting highlighting a few issues of special interest to the structural community. Visitors to the poster are invited to share their thoughts and to give us feed-back.

How to cite: Heilbronner, R., Stunitz, H., Précigout, J., and Raimbourg, H.: The solid medium deformation apparatus – reloaded, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9859,, 2020.

EGU2020-5595 | Displays | TS2.3

Effect of confining pressure on the strength of wet quartzite revisited

Lucille Nègre, Holger Stünitz, Hugues Raimbourg, Jacques Précigout, Petr Jeřábek, and Petar Pongrac

The ability of water to enhance plastic deformation of a quartz aggregate has been experimentally demonstrated during the sixties (e.g. Griggs and Blacic 1965), however the processes involved are still questioned. Notably the processes combining the effect of water and pressure during the deformation are still not completely understood. Pressure strongly influences the strength of fine-grained (3.6 - 4.9 µm) wet quartz aggregates (Kronenberg and Tullis 1984), where diffusion creep operates (Fukuda et al. 2018) but its effect on coarser-grained material expected to deform only by dislocation creep is not well constrained. To re-assess the effect of pressure on quartz crystal plastic deformation, natural wet quartzite samples from the Tana quarry in northern Norway (grain size ≈ 150 µm) have been deformed using a Griggs-type apparatus at varying confining pressures (from 0.6 to 2.0 GPa). All the samples with 0.1 wt. % H2O added were shortened coaxially up to 30% strain at constant strain rate (≈10-6 s-1) and temperature (900°C).

All mechanical records show that quartzite flow stresses decrease systematically with increasing pressure. These results allow to determine the strength of quartzite as a function of water fugacity, such as introduced in the flow law by Kohlstedt et al. (1995) to account for both pressure and water effects. In our case, the fugacity coefficient is m≈1 when using a stress exponent of n=2.

Microstructure and image analyses of samples reveal that the bulk strain results mainly from crystal plastic deformation of original grains whereas the recrystallization processes are limited volumetrically (less than 5%) and restricted to the boundaries of original grains. Deformation is not strongly partitioned into recrystallized domains compared to flattened original grains. Optical and SEM-cathodoluminescence images revealed the presence of cracks in conjunction with recrystallization (even for high-pressure samples) and associated chemical/fluid interaction, but the cracks do not contribute significantly to the bulk strain of the samples.

In order to determine the amount of water used for the deformation and the redistribution of H2O during deformation, the H2O content of the quartzite has been calculated from FTIR (Fourier Transform InfraRed spectroscopy) measurements for both, grain interiors and grain boundaries. The H2O concentrations decrease inside grains with the onset of deformation with respect to the starting material. H2O is primarily stored in the grain boundary region. There is no systematic correlation with pressure. Thus, pressure dependence of H2O weakening is not restricted to fine-grained materials at high pressure and temperature. Deformation redistributes water from the grain interiors to their grain boundaries.

Fukuda, J., Holyoke III, C.W., and Kronenberg, A.K. (2018). J. Geophysical Res.: Solid Earth, 123(6), 4676-4696.
Griggs, D. T., and Blacic J. D. (1965). Science, 147(3655), 292‑295.
Kohlstedt, D. L., Evans B., and Mackwell S. J. (1995). J. Geophysical Res.: Solid Earth, 100(B9), 17587-17602.
Kronenberg, A. K., and Tullis J. (1984). J. Geophysical Res.: Solid Earth, 89(B6), 4281‑4297.

How to cite: Nègre, L., Stünitz, H., Raimbourg, H., Précigout, J., Jeřábek, P., and Pongrac, P.: Effect of confining pressure on the strength of wet quartzite revisited, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5595,, 2020.

EGU2020-13172 | Displays | TS2.3

Behaviour of wet quartzite: deformation experiments revisited

Petar Pongrac, Petr Jeřábek, Holger Stünitz, Hugues Raimbourg, Lucille Nègre, and Jacques Précigout

Since quartz is among the most abundant minerals in continental crust and one of the first to show plasticity with increasing pressure and temperature, understanding its mechanical behavior is crucial for estimates on crustal strength and modeling of geodynamic processes. Since discovery of significantly lower mechanical strength of quartz as a consequence of H2O presence in the crystal (Griggs & Blacic, 1965), remarkable amount of work has been done in order to improve knowledge about processes and mechanisms responsible for so called H2O weakening effect. As the weakening effect depends on molecular H2O, it is a disequilibrium weakening process that is difficult to incorporate into existing flaw laws.

In order to estimate mechanical behavior of quartz in presence of H2O, we performed deformation experiments in solid-medium Griggs-type apparatus in coaxial setting under controlled laboratory conditions using very pure natural quartzite from Tana quarry in northern Norway. Behavior of as-is and 0.1 wt% H2O added samples was studied in 1) eight shortening experiments at 900 °C, 1 GPa and constant strain rate of 10-6 s-1 reaching 5% and 30% strain, 2) six strain rate stepping experiments covering 10-5, 10-6 and 10-7 s-1, 3) two temperature stepping experiments covering 750, 850 and 950 °C and 4) one hot-pressing experiment maintaining the starting experimental conditions for 14 hours.

There is a negligible strength difference between the as-is and H2O added samples. Both H2O added and as-is strain rate steeping experiments had shown surprisingly low stress exponent, with the highest value of 2.26. Temperature stepping experiments gave activation energy values of 177 kJ/mol and 198 kJ/mol. In all studied samples, strain increases towards the sample centers exhibiting grain size decrease from initial 250 – 300 µm. Three principal deformation mechanisms contributing to the bulk strain were identified: 1) crystal plasticity of original grains manifested by flattening, undulatory extinction, and development of subgrains, 2) cracking of original grains demonstrated by fluid inclusion trails and minor grain offset and 3) dynamic recrystallization via subgrain rotation recrystallization indicated by misorientation analysis from EBSD data. FTIR spectroscopy was applied to evaluate H2O speciation, quantity and distribution. Regardless of added H2O, most of deformed original grains showed relative H2O concentration between 0 and 400 H/106Si, implying significant decrease of H2O content from original 600 to 2000 H/106Si measured in undeformed grains. Average H2O concentration in grain boundaries showed 750 H/106Si for as-is samples and 1300 H/106Si for H2O added. Plasticity is most visible in CL-images, as well as higher degree of grain fragmentation and crack density in samples with added H2O. Ubiquitous presence of fluid along the grain boundaries, demonstrated by FTIR results, may have facilitated sliding along grain boundaries which, in turn, could explain the low stress exponent derived from strain rate stepping experiments.


Griggs, D. T. & Blacic, J. D. (1965): Quartz: Anomalous Weakness of Synthetic Crystals. Science 147(3655):292-95.

How to cite: Pongrac, P., Jeřábek, P., Stünitz, H., Raimbourg, H., Nègre, L., and Précigout, J.: Behaviour of wet quartzite: deformation experiments revisited, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13172,, 2020.

EGU2020-8179 | Displays | TS2.3

The effect of garnet and muscovite on the recrystallized grain size of quartz from general shear experiments

Leif Tokle, Greg Hirth, Luiz Morales, and Holger Stunitz

To investigate the role of strong and weak secondary phases on the recrystallized grain size of quartz, we performed grain size analyses on quenched samples from general shear experiments on quartz-garnet and quartz-muscovite mixtures. Six general shear experiments were conducted in the Griggs apparatus; three with mixtures of quartz-garnet (vol.% garnet 5, 15, 30) and three with mixtures of quartz-muscovite (vol.% muscovite 5, 10, 25). The starting powders for both set of experiments were synthetic mixtures of quartz-muscovite or quartz-garnet with 0.1 wt.% water added. The quartz-garnet experiments were conducted at 900°C, a pressure of 1.2 GPa, and a shear strain rate of ~10-5 s-1, while the quartz-muscovite experiments were conducted at 800°C, a pressure of 1.5 GPa, and a shear strain rate of ~10-5 s-1. At these deformation conditions quartz is stronger than muscovite and weaker than garnet. We observed that the bulk strength of the aggregate decreases with a greater volume percent of muscovite and increases with a greater volume percent of garnet. Garnet at these conditions does not deform plastically. The presence of secondary phases within the deforming aggregate causes stress concentrations and partitioning of strain rate between the different phases relative to the measured bulk stress and strain rate. The degree of partitioning is primarily related to the rheology and volume percent of the phases. Due to the piezometric relationship between recrystallized grain size and stress, we can use the quartz recrystallized grain size to determine the local stress of quartz in the experiments and compare it to the measured bulk stress. The results from these analyses will provide new insight into the effect of strain partitioning in general and of strong and weak secondary phases on quartz rheology.

How to cite: Tokle, L., Hirth, G., Morales, L., and Stunitz, H.: The effect of garnet and muscovite on the recrystallized grain size of quartz from general shear experiments , EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8179,, 2020.

EGU2020-14067 | Displays | TS2.3

Do local kinematics have an effect on the recrystallized grain size piezometer?

Rüdiger Kilian and Michael Stipp

The quartz recrystallized grain size piezometer was determined by axial shortening experiments on Black Hills quartzite in Griggs type triaxial deformation apparatus (Stipp & Tullis, 2003). The analysis of general shear experiments on Black Hills quartzite (Heilbronner & Kilian, 2017) reveal a striking discrepancy between both experimental  setups; at a given differential stress, recrystallized grains are much larger in the general shear experiments than in axial shortening.
A major difference between both sets of experiments is, that the finite grain volume of quartz in the general shear experiments almost entirely consists of recrystallized grains while the here investigated axial shortening experiments have fractions of recrystallized grains in the range of 15 to 30% in the high stress experiments and up to 60% in the low stress experiments. Quartz in the general shear experiments developed a moderate to strong crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) while, apart from a Dauphiné-induced ordering of poles to {10-11} and {01-11}, no overall significant CPO developed in the axial shortening experiments.
Based on the analysis of the EBSD data of Cross et al. (2017), we observed that the dispersion axes of large quartz grains in the axial shortening experiments correspond to the global kinematic reference frame. The dispersion axes of the fraction of small, recrystallized grains depend on the local kinematics between the porphyroclasts. Slip transparency indicates that boundaries between the largest grains are rather hard while recrystallized grains can accommodate strain induced by crystal plastic slip more effectively and homogeneously.
These results suggest that recrystallized grains in the axial shortening experiments, at least in those with low fractions of recrystallized grains, correspond to a material deforming at a rate higher than the imposed shortening rate while the axial load is predominantly supported by the porphyroclasts. In contrast, recrystallized grains in general shear experiments deform at the imposed (global) rate and derived stresses correspond on average to the deforming zone. Due to strain and strain rate inhomogeneities in the latter experiments, however, there is a systematic variation in recrystallized grain size across the general shear zone. We compare these local microstructural variations and discuss their significance for the recrystallized grain size piezometer calibration.

How to cite: Kilian, R. and Stipp, M.: Do local kinematics have an effect on the recrystallized grain size piezometer?, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-14067,, 2020.

EGU2020-8629 | Displays | TS2.3

HP/HT deformation experiments of garnet-omphacite aggregates – influence of volume fractions on deformation mechanisms.

Stefanie Klackl, Katrin Kraus, Jörg Renner, Bernhard Grasemann, and Anna Rogowitz

Forming in oceanic and continental subduction zones during high to ultra-high-pressure metamorphism, eclogites play an important role in convergent settings. To improve our understanding of eclogite deformation behaviour with respect to its phase abundance of omphacite and garnet, synthetic eclogite samples containing 25, 50 and 75% volume fraction of garnet have been deformed in a modified Griggs-type solid-medium apparatus. Deformation conditions were set to a confining pressure of 2.5 GPa, 900 °C and 3*10-6 s-1. Detailed microstructure analysis via optical and electron microscope imaging (SE, BSE and EBSD) served for identification of the dominant active deformation mechanism.
All eclogite samples show a foliation which is defined by a shape preferred orientation (SPO) of omphacite and intercalated foliation sub-parallel garnet aggregates. Another common feature is a weak crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) of omphacite which is present throughout all samples. In accordance to uniaxial shortening the CPO resembles an s-type texture with a point maximum of [001] axis parallel to the foliation and a maximum of [010] axis perpendicular to the foliation. The stereographic projection of garnet crystallographic orientation is almost distributed randomly. Nevertheless, both phases show an intracrystalline misorientation, indicating activation of crystal plastic processes. With increasing garnet content the grain average misorientation is increasing in both omphacite and garnet crystals. On the other hand, deformation twinning in omphacite is decreasing with increasing garnet content. Further, all samples show indication of brittle deformation of both garnet and omphacite, increasing with increasing garnet content. In samples with a 25% volume fraction of garnet micro-cracks are primarily orientated perpendicular to the foliation, getting more randomly distributed in samples with a 50 and 75% volume fraction of garnet.
In conclusion, all samples show similar microstructures and textures indicating that similar mechanism are active during deformation. However, the overall dominant deformation behaviour is switching from crystal plastic to brittle with increasing garnet content.

How to cite: Klackl, S., Kraus, K., Renner, J., Grasemann, B., and Rogowitz, A.: HP/HT deformation experiments of garnet-omphacite aggregates – influence of volume fractions on deformation mechanisms., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8629,, 2020.

EGU2020-11145 | Displays | TS2.3

Exploitation of unsuitably oriented foliation by localized mylonites and pseudotachylytes (Tauern Window, Eastern Alps)

Giovanni Toffol, Giorgio Pennacchioni, Luiz Fernando Grafulha Morales, and Simone Papa

During exhumation, metamorphic rocks change their rheological behavior from dominantly ductile to brittle. Especially at the “brittle-ductile transition” at the bottom of the brittle crust, which coincides roughly with the domain where most “shallow” earthquakes nucleate, rocks exhibit a close interplay between ductile flow and fracturing.

In the Neves area (Tauern window, Eastern Alps) the exhumation across the brittle-ductile transition of amphibolite-facies meta-granitoids during the Alpine cycle is recorded by the association of pseudotachylyte veins and localized low-grade mylonites (stage-2 deformation). The stage-2 structures exploited the precursor amphibolite-facies foliation within meter-thick mylonites (stage-1 deformation) and were in turn overprinted by epidote-chlorite-bearing shear fractures and veins (stage-3 deformation). The kinematics and orientation of stage-1 and stage-3 structures indicate a slight rotation of the regional shortening direction from 345° to about 360°. This implies that stage-2 mylonites and pseudotachylytes developed at a high angle to the shortening direction.

The syn-kinematic metamorphic assemblage of stage-2 mylonites includes quartz, oligoclase (Ab75), biotite, epidote, and minor muscovite and K-feldspar; garnet was not stable. This assemblage constrains the deformation at upper greenschist facies condition and temperatures of around 400 °C. During mylonitization the coarse-grained (mm-sized) amphibolite-facies quartz recrystallized by subgrain rotation to ultra-fine (~ 3 µm average grain size determined from EBSD maps) aggregates. Such a small grain size yields differential stress > 200 MPa during stage-2 mylonitization, considering the piezometer of Cross et al., 2017 1.

Pseudotachylytes are in a close spatial association with stage-2 mylonites and share the same sense of shear. There is no evidence of a ductile overprint of pseudotachylytes. The stage-2 structures developed at a very high angle to the inferred shortening direction, which implies that the coseismic slip occurred on planes with a very low friction coefficient (estimated <0.3), contradicting the high differential stress estimated for the mylonites. We infer a genetic relationship between stage-2 mylonite and pseudotachylyte. Mylonites progressively formed the mica-rich foliation planes, continuous over large distances, that provided the weak mechanical anisotropy eventually leading to coseismic slip.



1: Cross, et al., 2017, The recrystallized grain size piezometer for quartz: An EBSD‐based calibration. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44(13), 6667-6674.

How to cite: Toffol, G., Pennacchioni, G., Grafulha Morales, L. F., and Papa, S.: Exploitation of unsuitably oriented foliation by localized mylonites and pseudotachylytes (Tauern Window, Eastern Alps), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11145,, 2020.

EGU2020-6714 | Displays | TS2.3

Quantitative texture analysis by neutron diffraction in deformed crystalline aggregates: Contín Shear Zone, Morais Complex, N Portugal.
not presented

Manuela Durán Oreja, Jeremie Malecki, and Juan Gómez Barreiro

Two samples of mylonitic-ultramylonitic ortogneisses collected along the Contín shear zone were investigated for crystal preferred orientation and seismic anisotropy. Neutron diffraction data obtained at the D1B beamline at ILL (Institute Laue-Langevin, Grenoble) were analyzed with the Rietveld method as implemented in the code MAUD, to obtain the orientation distribution functions (ODF) of the principal phases (quartz, K-feldspar, plagioclase, phlogopite, muscovite and riebeckite). Texture and microstructure are compatible with the plastic deformation of the aggregates under medium to low-temperature conditions. Kinematic analysis supports a top-to-the SE sense of shear, suggesting a thrust character. Using preferred orientation data and single crystal elastic tensors, P and S-waves velocities and elastic anisotropy have been calculated. We have explored the role of several factors controlling the elastic properties of rocks, particularly the role of strain state and mineral changes in a shear zone. Those factors have a direct impact on the medium impedance and consequently on the interphase reflectivity. P-wave velocities, S-wave splitting and anisotropy increase with muscovite content. Seismic anisotropy is linked with the texture symmetry, which can result in large deviations between actual anisotropy and that measured along Cartesian XYZ sample directions (lineation/foliation reference frame). This is significant for the prediction and interpretation of seismic data. (Research support CGL2016-78560-P)

How to cite: Durán Oreja, M., Malecki, J., and Gómez Barreiro, J.: Quantitative texture analysis by neutron diffraction in deformed crystalline aggregates: Contín Shear Zone, Morais Complex, N Portugal., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6714,, 2020.

EGU2020-11703 | Displays | TS2.3

Quantitative microstructural analysis of western Mediterranean strike-slip kinematics: the Palmi Shear Zone, southern Calabria, Italy

Gaetano Ortolano, Eugenio Fazio, Roberto Visalli, Ian G. Alsop, Mario Pagano, and Rosolino CIrrincione

We apply Quantitative Microstructural Analysis (QMA) to a selection of mylonitic rocks that originate from different protoliths, ranging from tonalite to skarn and passing through migmatitic paragneiss. These rocks, that at the end of Paleozoic originally belonged to the lower crustal portion of the southern European Variscan chain, were successively involved in deep-seated strike-slip kinematics of the western Mediterranean realm, created by the relative movement in the Paleocene of the African-European colliding plates. This geodynamics leads to the roto-translation of the Sardinia-Corsica block and the drifting of the kabilo-clabride microplate system (Cirrincione et al., 2015). Remnants of these high strain-rate strike-slip zones are characterized by rheological behaviours controlled by the selective activation of their specific interconnecting weakening phase, as well as by the rheology and abundance of porphyroclasts. QMA is generated by means of new semi-automated GIS-based tools that allow us to extrapolate statistically meaningful kinematic and rheological properties of this meso-Alpine strike-slip mylonitic shear zone (i.e. Palmi Shear Zone). This, in turn, constrains the Alpine evolutionary stages of southern Calabrian geodynamics (Ortolano et al., 2020). Semi-automated image analysis of mXRF maps, combined with high-resolution thin-section scans involving new GIS-based tools developed for structural analysis (e.g. Ortolano et al., 2018; Visalli, 2018), was performed on a selection of three different mylonitic rock-types. These tools permit the user to quantitatively extrapolate rock-fabric parameters such as grain size, aspect ratio and orientation, which allows the nature and relative percentage of the weakening vs. hardening layers, as well as their kinematics, to be derived. Our results allow us to distinguish the porphyroclastic domain levels constituted alternatively by feldspar, amphibole, pyroxene or scapolite, from the weakening phase ones dominated by quartz, biotite plus quartz, or by calcite when the weakening layer is controlled by skarns. Image analysis of porphyroclastic domains has been used to infer the dominant shear-type through Rigid Grain Analysis, revealing a pure shear component of 66 to 68 % for the mylonitic tonalites; 62 to 66 % for the mylonitic paragneisses; and 58 to 62 % for the mylonitic skarn. Image analysis conducted on quartz-rich domains allows an estimate of the shear strain rate, which ranges on average from 1.14*10-12 (1/s) for mylonitic paragneiss to 5.91*10-12 (1/s) for mylonitic tonalite, and is in accord with high strain zones in natural settings. Our results provide new insights into the kinematics and rheology of this exhumed relic of the deep-rooted early-Alpine strike-slip tectonics of the western Mediterranean.



Cirrincione R., Fazio E., Fiannacca P., Ortolano G. & Pezzino A., Punturo R. 2015. Period. Mineral., 84(3B), 701-749.

Ortolano G., Visalli R., Godard G. & Cirrincione R. 2018. Comput. Geosci., 115, 56-65.

Ortolano, G., Fazio, E., Visalli, R., Alsop, G.I., Pagano, M., Cirrincione, R. 2020. Journal of Structural Geology, 131, art. no. 103956.

Visalli R. 2018. Plinius, vol 44, DOI:10.19276/plinius.2018.01014.

How to cite: Ortolano, G., Fazio, E., Visalli, R., Alsop, I. G., Pagano, M., and CIrrincione, R.: Quantitative microstructural analysis of western Mediterranean strike-slip kinematics: the Palmi Shear Zone, southern Calabria, Italy, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11703,, 2020.

EGU2020-15152 | Displays | TS2.3

Thermal history modelling of the western margin of the Bohemian Massif using high-resolution apatite fission-track thermochronology

Lucie Novakova, Raymond Jonckheere, Bastian Wauschkuhn, and Lothar Ratchbacher

The Naab area is situated on the western border of the Bohemian Massif, 60 km south of the KTB (Kontinentalen Tiefbohrung). The main super-deep borehole of the KTB reached a depth of 9,101 meters in the Earth's continental crust. The fission-track data for the KTB and the Naab area present contrasting signatures. The apatite fission-track ages in the upper section of the KTB borehole and surrounding area are in the range 50-70 Ma (Wagner et al., 1994; Wauschkuhn et al., 2015). The apatite fission-track ages of the Naab basement are older than those of the KTB area, and span a broader range: 120-200 Ma (Vercoutere, 1994). The distributions of the confined-track lengths range from unimodal over skewed and mixed to bimodal, with mean lengths in the range 11-13 µm. In broad terms, this can be interpreted as that the Naab samples contain both an older and younger (in particular pre- and post-late Cretaceous) fission-track population. The aim of our research is to investigate the applicability of lab-based models to geological data, using improved measurement techniques.

We studied eighteen samples dated by Vercoutere (1994) from the Palaeozoic basement and seven large rock samples from the Rotliegend strata north of the Luhe fault.  We intend to extend the confined-track length measurements of Vercoutere (1994), aiming to achieve higher resolution through methodological innovations made possible by computer-controlled motorized microscopes. Improved statistics increase the resolution of the modelled thermal histories, which permits to better distinguish systematic from statistical differences between the modelled palaeotemperatures and geological estimates. Experiments have shown that the rate of length increase permits to distinguish older from younger tracks (Jonckheere et al., 2017). This allows us to distinguish between tracks formed before and after the Late Cre­taceous to Palaeocene exhumation. The etch rate of a confined track is also an indicator of its individual thermal history, supplementing the information gleaned from its etchable length under fixed conditions. We compiled a comprehensive, high-resolution confined-track-length dataset. The Naab thermal histories were determined using modern modelling algorithms, implementing the most recent empirical equations.


Jonckheere R., Tamer M., Wauschkuhn F., Wauschkuhn B., Ratschbacher L., 2017. Single-track length measurements of step-etched fission tracks in Durango apatite: Vorsprung durch Technik.American Mineralogist 102, 987-996.

Vercoutere C., 1994. The thermotectonic history of the Brabant Massif (Belgium) and the Naab Basement (Germany):   an apatite fission track analysis. Ph. D. thesis, Universiteit Gent, pp. 191.

Wagner G.A., Hejl E., Van Den Haute P., 1994. The KTB fission-track project: Methodical aspects and geological implications. Radiation Measurements 23, 95-101.

Wauschkuhn B., Jonckheere R., Ratschbacher L., 2015. The KTB apatite fission-track profiles: building on a firm foundation? Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 167, 27-62.

How to cite: Novakova, L., Jonckheere, R., Wauschkuhn, B., and Ratchbacher, L.: Thermal history modelling of the western margin of the Bohemian Massif using high-resolution apatite fission-track thermochronology, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-15152,, 2020.

The Precambrian shield in southern Sweden exposes a granitic bedrock segment that represents a part of an ancient eroded mountain belt and expose a gradual change in metamorphic grade from cold (<300°C), little affected by recrystallization, to hot (>800°C) and partially molten sections at the west coast (Möller and Andersson, 2018). This area – the Eastern Segment – offers a large scale study of the interdependence of metamorphism, deformation, partial melting, and functional properties of crushed rock aggregates.

In the petrological community, it is well-known that the evolution of a metamorphic unit (e.g. a high-pressure unit) with respect to pressure, temperature, time, and deformation holds key information on its tectonic history. It has rarely been emphasized, however, that the same factors determine the physical properties of the rock and thus, its technical properties. Basic research in metamorphic petrology thus contributes with a fundament to applied and technical science, e.g. by providing data that lead to quarrying of proper materials.

This study assesses the variations of technical properties with the metamorphic state, primarily metamorphic temperature and partial melting during metamorphism. Our first results show the correlation between the petrological characteristics and technical properties of felsic orthogneiss within a migmatized eclogite-bearing terrane and its high-pressure granulite-bearing footwall.

Measurements include the Los Angeles and Micro-Deval value tests. The Los Angeles value is a measure of the resistance to fragmentation (EN 1097-2, 2010). The Micro-Deval test measures the resistance to wear.

High values of the Los Angeles and Micro-Deval analyses for felsic orthogneiss in the eclogite-bearing domain reflect poor technical properties and are largely linked to that the rocks underwent partial melting. Orthogneisses in the footwall, which recrystallized under high-temperature, dry conditions, and without partial melting, tend to have lower values. This group includes high-quality rocks for the production of aggregates suitable for asphalt base courses and unbound road layers.

Micro-textures in the orthogneisses are linked with these metamorphic conditions. The clinopyroxene-bearing orthogneisses have complex grain boundaries and micro-perthitic feldspars, finer average grain size, lower biotite content, and absence of migmatitic segregation or penetrative veining. These textures in the footwall orthogneisses contrast with those in the migmatitic orthogneisses from the eclogite-bearing domain, which have a coarser average grain size, even-grained and granoblastic texture, and lack of perthitic texture in feldspars. Thus, these petrographic parameters govern the technical differences.

Our ongoing research addresses the relations between macro-fabric, micro-texture and technical properties of felsic orthogneiss and metagabbro, respectively, along 120 km profile across the metamorphic field gradient from greenschist- to high-pressure granulite-facies in the Eastern Segment.

How to cite: Urueña, C., Möller, C., Andersson, J., Göransson, M., Lindqvist, J. E., and Åkeson, U.: Metamorphic micro-textural variations and their bearing on rock technical properties. A case study of the transition from greenschist- to high-pressure granulite-facies in the Eastern Segment, Sveconorwegian orogen, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-111,, 2020.

EGU2020-5167 | Displays | TS2.3

Strain localization associated with brittle faulting in a natural clinoptilolite-tuff (open-pit mine Nižný Hrabovec, Slovak Republic)

Zhaoliang Hou, A. Hugh N Rice, Cornelius Tschegg, Thomas Berger, and Bernhard Grasemann

Clinoptilolite, a micro-porous natural zeolite comprising tetrahedra of silica and alumina that commonly occurs in volcanic tuffs through devitrification of natural glasses, has numerous uses in the manufacturing, agriculture and building industries; it also has applications in veterinary and human medicines. Field observations and microstructural investigations in the natural clinoptilolite-tuff from Nižný Hrabovec (Slovak Republic) – one of the world’s economically most important high-quality clinoptilolite deposits – show evidence of strain localization. Brittle faults formed along pre-existing joints with plumose structures that had acted as a pathway for local infiltration of iron-, manganese- and potassium-rich fluids. Fault displacement formed structures that are indicative of both velocity hardening, with dissolution precipitation creep (SC/SCC’ foliation), and velocity weakening, with several phases of ultra-cataclasites forming along principal slip surfaces. Rock-fluid interaction is characterized by a high-mobility of K, with K-feldspar decorating SC/SCC’ foliations, infiltrating fractures in fault damage zones and precipitating as idiomorphic crystals in open cavities and along fault surfaces. Microstructures such as polished slickensides, injection of fluidized cataclasites, clast cortex grains in cataclasites and truncated grains along principal slip surfaces suggest that seismic slip probably occurred along some of the faults.

How to cite: Hou, Z., Rice, A. H. N., Tschegg, C., Berger, T., and Grasemann, B.: Strain localization associated with brittle faulting in a natural clinoptilolite-tuff (open-pit mine Nižný Hrabovec, Slovak Republic), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5167,, 2020.

EGU2020-9231 | Displays | TS2.3

Deformation history of the Marmara Granitoid and implications for a dextral shear zone in NW Anatolia

Salim Birkan Bayrak, Işıl Nur Güraslan, Alp Ünal, Ömer Kamacı, Şafak Altunkaynak, and Erdinç Yiğitbaş

Marmara granitoid (47 Ma) is a representative example of the Eocene post-collisional magmatism which produced several granitic plutons in NW Anatolia, Turkey. It is a W-E trending sill-like magmatic body which was concordantly emplaced into the metamorphic basement rocks of Erdek Complex and Saraylar Marble. The granitoid is represented by deformed granodiorite which displays well-developed lineation and foliation in meso-scale defined by the elongation of mica and feldspar crystals and recrystallization of quartz however, in some places, magmatic textures are preserved. Deformed granodiorite is broadly cut by aplitic and pegmatitic dikes and contains mafic enclaves which display the same deformation indicators with the main granitoid.

Microstructural analysis shows that the solid-state deformation of the Marmara granitoid is classified as ductile deformation with high temperatures and ductile-to-brittle deformation with relatively lower temperatures. Evidence for the ductile deformation of the granitoid is represented by chessboard extinction of quartz, grain boundary migration (GBM) and subgrain rotation recrystallisation (SGR) which exhibits that the deformation temperature changed from 600 oC to 400oC. Bulging recrystallization (BLG), grain size reduction of amphibole, biotite and plagioclases and microcracks on plagioclases were considered as overlying ductile-to-brittle deformation signatures which develop between 300-<250 oC temperatures.

All of these field and micro-structural data collectively suggest that the shear sense indicators such as micafish structures and δ type mantled porphyroclasts displayed stair-steppings pointing out to a right lateral movement, indicating that the structural evolution and deformation history of Marmara granitoid was controlled by a dextral shear zone.

How to cite: Bayrak, S. B., Güraslan, I. N., Ünal, A., Kamacı, Ö., Altunkaynak, Ş., and Yiğitbaş, E.: Deformation history of the Marmara Granitoid and implications for a dextral shear zone in NW Anatolia, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-9231,, 2020.

Shear zones in the high-grade terranes represent the tectonic- fossils of strain history. One such shear zones, namely Balaram-Jogdadi shear zones defining the terrane boundary of the Ambaji granulites of the South Delhi terrane Aravalli –Delhi Mobile belt, NW India, provide evidence for strain variation during exhumation of lower-middle crustal rocks. Compilation of field and microscopic analysis of various samples of mylonite from shear zones suggest that the part of shear zone contains high-grade mineral assemblages such as cordierite, sillimanite, spinel, garnet in quartzo-feldspathic mylonite rock and exhibit signature of thrusting in which garnet behaved as brittle phase and quartz and feldspar grain show ductile deformation. 2D and 3D strain analysis estimate a plane to flattening type of strain pattern. Principal strain planes are used to calculate the strain ratios for estimation of variation of strain along the shear zone. This study indicates high-grade mylonite accommodates high strain. The flow of rigid porphyroclasts estimates mean kinematic vorticity number varies from 0.47 to 0.68, which indicates the dominance of pure shear during shearing. Vorticity by the Rs/θ method in quartz grain estimates ranges from 0.7 to 0.95, suggesting a non-steady strain towards the end of deformation. High-grade mylonites were overprinted by low-temperature mylonitisation marked by minerals like quartz, feldspar, biotite in which feldspar porphyroclast shows brittle deformation and quartz, biotite show ductile deformation. Several shear kinematics indicate top-to-NW sinistral strike-slip shearing. Thus it has been interpreted that the shear zone had undergone non-steady strain. The initial thrusting phase was dominated by more pure shear component. The strike-slip shearing part was dominated by more simple shear component. Monazite geochronology sets the age of shearing at 834-778 Ma suggesting the exhumation was a transition event between Grenville to Pan-African orogeny.

Keywords: Shear zone, Deformation, Vorticity, 3D strain analysis, Monazite dating

How to cite: Saraswati, R. and Biswal, T. K.: Non-steady strain in the terrane boundary shear zone of the Ambaji Granulite, NW India: Implications for understanding towards the dynamics of emplacement of the lower-middle crustal rocks., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-2897,, 2020.

EGU2020-7397 | Displays | TS2.3

The kinematic vorticity analysis of ductile shear zones of Ambaji Granulite, NW India and its tectonic implications

Sudheer Kumar Tiwari, Anouk Beniest, and Tapas Kumar Biswal

The Neoproterozoic (834 – 778 Ma) Ambaji granulite witnessed four deformation phases (D1- D4), of which the D2 deformation phase was most significant for the exhumation of granulites in the ductile regime. We performed a field study to investigate the tectonic evolution of the D2 deformation phase and investigated the deformation evolution of the ductile extrusion of the Ambaji granulite by estimating the vorticity of flow (Wm) with the Rigid Grain Net and strain ratio/orientation techniques.

During the D2 deformation phase, the S1 fabric was folded by F2 folds that are coaxial with the F1 folds. The F2 folds were produced in response to NW-SE compression. Because the large shear zones are oriented parallel to the axial plane of the F2 folds, they likely formed simultaneously during the D2 deformation phase. Compression during the D2 deformation phase accommodated most of the exhumation of the granulite along the shear zones. D2 shearing was constrained between 834 ± 7 to 778 ± 8 Ma (Monazite ages).

The shear zones evolved from a high temperature (>700 °C) thrust-slip shearing event in the lower-middle crust to a low temperature (450 °C) retrograde sinistral shearing event at the brittle-ductile-transition (BDT). The Wm estimates of 0.32–0.40 and 0.60 coincide with the high temperature event and suggests pure shear dominated deformation. The low temperature phase coincides with Wm estimates of 0.64–0.87 and ~1.0, implying two flow regimes. The shear zone was first affected by general non-coaxial deformation and gradually became dominated by simple shearing.

We interpreted that the high temperature event happened in a compressive tectonic regime, which led to horizontal shortening and vertical displacement of the granulite to the BDT. The low temperature event occurred in a transpressive tectonic setting that caused the lateral displacement of the granulite body at BDT depth. The Wm values indicate a non-steady strain during the exhumation of granulite. From the BDT to surface, the Ambaji granulite exhumed through the NW-SE directed extension for normal faults via brittle exhumation through crustal extension and thinning.

How to cite: Tiwari, S. K., Beniest, A., and Biswal, T. K.: The kinematic vorticity analysis of ductile shear zones of Ambaji Granulite, NW India and its tectonic implications, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-7397,, 2020.

TS2.5 – The energy budget of tectonic systems

Small seismological events recorded in southern Norway in the period of 2017-2018 were used to calculate the sudden co-seismic temperature increase using a simple stress-drop model. In order to estimate the net production of thermal energy, both, industry explosions and natural events were included.  The range of resultant average temperature rise, with a maximum of ~ 143 ° C for a Mw =3.5, is proposed as an additional constituent that explain the weakness areas related to the high amount of intracrustal seismicity, mainly regarding the anisotropic thermal expansion of rocks and the flash heating thermal process produced by historical earthquakes with magnitudes over . The temperature values were subsequently used to estimate the thermal energy in 2D and 3D cumulative patterns in the area, as well as the total amount of energy that is available regarding seismic activity. The results were correlated with existing geological information, considering lineaments and heat flux data. Areas with high values of thermal energy seems to be spatially linked with both high heat flux zones and high density of lineaments, mainly to the south of the Trøndelag Platform as well as to the south of the Møre basin.

How to cite: Estay, R.: Thermal energy pattern related with the temperature increasing due to intraplate and induced seismicity, Southern Norway, 2017-2018, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10759,, 2020.

Frictional energy generating during an earthquake has been well studied in the last decades and quite a few laboratory experiments have been carried out recently with the objective to quantify and describe this type of energy in a better way.  In our research we modelled the temperature rise during a simulated seismic event and the consequent equivalent heat released using the ANSYS® Mechanical software. Our approach is using the Finite Element Method to model a symmetrical fault plane where several parameters such as density, pressure, structural and thermal material characteristics are set according the conditions of a compressional tri-axial test. Natural and forced models were explored applying the Mohr-Coulomb failure criteria. Using a temporal window similar to a realistic situation, we are capable to observe the differences that occur during the stick-slip behavior in the co-seismic rupture process. On the other hand, the time lapse allows us to observe model and infer how the heat is generated and transferred around the fault plane. As a preliminary result, a variation of approximately 1.5°C was obtained simulating the conditions for a laboratory induced micro-seismic event modelled as a tri-axial test under 10 MPa of confining pressure and 20 MPa as vertical pressure, with velocities in the order of 1.5 mm/s.

How to cite: Uslar, A.: Simulation of frictional heat generation due to underground motion, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10795,, 2020.

EGU2020-14142 | Displays | TS2.5

Heat transfer through the nappes of the Lepontine Dome

Alessia Tagliaferri, Filippo Luca Schenker, Stefan Markus Schmalholz, and Silvio Seno

The heat transfer through the nappes of the Lepontine Dome (Central Alps, Ticino, Switzerland) produced metamorphic amphibolite-facies isogrades that locally dissect the tectonic contacts. This large-scale observation, suggesting a thermal amphibolite-facies event after thrusting and nappe formation, is however at odd with the extremely pervasive mineral and stretching lineation (NW-SE directed) that attests non-coaxial deformation during shearing at similar metamorphic conditions.

To solve this apparent paradox we performed 2D thermo-kinematic simulations in which we investigated the relationships between nappe geometry and the geometries of isogrades. The numerical simulations are based on the finite difference method. We evaluate the relative importance of velocity, thermal diffusion and advection, and geometry of the thrust sheets, on the geometrical relation between tectonic contacts and isogrades. We calculate the thermal evolution and peak temperatures in order to compare the numerical results with field and petrological data collected along the Simano and Cima Lunga nappes.

In the field, the alternation of lithotypes is parallel to the nappe boundaries and constant over their whole length (order of kms). Passing from the Simano to the Cima-Lunga nappe, the transition between the nappes is marked by a progressive change in the texture of gneisses, in which the porphyroblasts become more stretched from the bottom to the top, and by the change in the constituent lithotypes. In the studied area, the Simano nappe is formed mainly by metagranitoids and by minor paragneisses. The Cima Lunga nappe is made of metasediments, mainly quartz-rich gneisses intercalated with amphibolite-gneisses, peridotitic lenses and local calcschists and/or marbles. Finally, the widespread paragneisses forming both the nappes frequently contain garnets of different sizes and internal microstructure. Published and own petrological data of these garnet-bearing rocks will be used to restrict the physical parameters of the numerical results.

We intend to test multiple geological scenarios related to different sources of heat production, such as: internal heat sources (radiogenic heating); additional heat flux at the bottom of the nappes, such in the case of a magmatic underplating, slab break-off, lower crust delamination; and in situ-produced heat due to shear heating mechanisms at the tectonic boundary between the nappes (thrust surface).

How to cite: Tagliaferri, A., Schenker, F. L., Schmalholz, S. M., and Seno, S.: Heat transfer through the nappes of the Lepontine Dome, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-14142,, 2020.

EGU2020-18763 | Displays | TS2.5

From Elastic Deformation Loading Rates to Heat Flow Anomalies: Constraints on Seismic Efficiency and Friction Coefficient

Malte J. Ziebarth, John G. Anderson, Sebastian von Specht, Oliver Heidbach, and Fabrice Cotton

A long standing debate in seismology revolves around the nonexistent heat flow anomaly across the San Andreas fault. Given the fault’s average slip rate and age, a strong San Andreas fault, i.e. characterized by a relatively high static friction coefficient of µ>=0.6, should produce a significant local heat flow anomaly across the fault [1]. Since the work of Lachenbruch and Sass [1], this anomaly has not been observed and although many possible causes for the lack of a heat flow anomaly have been explored, the static or dynamic weakness of the San Andreas fault remains a favorable explanation [2,3].

Recently, we have introduced the ENergy COnserving Seismicity (ENCOS) framework that relates elastic deformation energy loading rates to the long-term average energy release of the seismic process. Within the presented implementation of ENCOS for Southern California with an elastic loading rate between 300 MW and 1.9 GW, the two most significant parameters are the static friction coefficient and the average efficiency. In particular, they are the most significant sources of uncertainty in harnessing the GPS-derived strain rates and the stress data within the ENCOS framework.

Here, we show how ENCOS can be leveraged in combination with the constraints from heat flow measurements and observed seismicity to restrict the parameter space of the average efficiency and the static friction coefficient. This can help to reduce the uncertainty of the ENCOS model parameters, such as the elastic deformation energy loading rate, and opens a new viewpoint on the heat flow paradox.

[1] Lachenbruch, A. H., and Sass, J. H. (1980), Heat flow and energetics of the San Andreas Fault Zone, J. Geophys. Res., 85(B11), 6185–6222.

[2] Scholz, C. H. (2013). The Strength of the San Andreas Fault: A Critical Analysis. In Earthquakes: Radiated Energy and the Physics of Faulting (eds R. Abercrombie, A. McGarr, G. Di Toro and H. Kanamori).

[3] E. E. Brodsky et al. (2020), The State of Stress on the Fault Before, During, and After a Major Earthquake, Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci. 48:2.1–2.26.

How to cite: Ziebarth, M. J., Anderson, J. G., von Specht, S., Heidbach, O., and Cotton, F.: From Elastic Deformation Loading Rates to Heat Flow Anomalies: Constraints on Seismic Efficiency and Friction Coefficient, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18763,, 2020.

We present a study on the paleoseismic Gole Larghe Fault Zone (GLFZ), composed of hundreds of sub-parallel faults hosted in tonalites of the Adamello Massif (Italian Southern Alps), where we collected a complete transect across the fault zone, including the background host rocks, over a thickness of >1km.

Along this transect, we studied the correlation between fracture spacing (for “fracture” here we mean joints, veins, faults, shear fractures, and all other brittle structures) and position with a robust non-parametric approach. This analysis, new for fracture distribution studies, allows detecting volumes of the fault zone with clustering or a trend in spacing, versus volumes where the spatial distribution is stationary. The analysis reveals that the GLFZ can be subdivided in “stationary volumes” where fractures shows stationary statistical properties. Each one of these volumes can be completely characterized with scanline and/or scanarea surveys to obtain a complete and statistically sound estimate of all fracture parameters (spacing, intensity, density, length, height, orientation, topology, etc.).

Within the GLFZ we have two main classes of structures: (i) “master” faults that are sub-parallel to the fault zone and are always characterized by pseudotachylytes and/or cataclasites, and (ii) minor “fractures” (e.g. Riedel fractures, joints, veins, etc.) that are oblique to the fault zone and interconnect the former. Out of the GLFZ we observe a background fracturing that is associated to the cooling of the Adamello tonalites under deviatoric tectonic stress (“cooling joints”).

By comparing fracture statistics within and outside the fault zone, we demonstrated that master faults within the GLFZ were almost completely inherited from the “cooling joints” of the host rocks. The cooling joints just grew in length and became completely interconnected at the scale of the seismic rupture. This means that, at least in the case of the GLFZ, the large faults and fractures along which seismic ruptures were running do not add significantly to the earthquake energy budget, because they were already present in the system before the onset of seismic activity. The only fractures to be considered in this budget are the minor interconnecting fractures (e.g. Riedel fractures, joints, veins, etc.) that are coated with pseudotachylytes.

These observations confirm once again the classical assumption that seismic ruptures propagate along pre-existing discontinuities and do not, in general, tend to fracture intact rocks.

How to cite: Bistacchi, A., Mittempergher, S., Smith, S. A. F., Di Toro, G., and Nielsen, S.: Detailed statistical analysis of the Gole Larghe Fault Zone fracture network (Italian Southern Alps) improves estimates of the energy budget for intraplate earthquakes in basement rocks, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-13800,, 2020.

EGU2020-8030 | Displays | TS2.5 | Highlight

Impact of coseismic off-fault damage on the overall energy budget.

Marion Y. Thomas and Harsha S. Bhat

In the brittle part of the crust, deformation is usually perceived to be the result of displacement along fault planes, whose behaviors are controlled by their frictional properties. However, fault zones not only consist of a narrow fault core where slip occurs, they are also surrounded by a complex structure which is of key importance in the mechanics of faulting, hence in determining the overall energy budget. Indeed, as pointed out by the numerous field, geophysical, mechanical and laboratory observations, if the behavior of fault zones is intrinsically linked to the properties of the main sliding plane, it also depends on those of the surrounding medium.  In parallel, fault displacements may induce a substantial change in the physical properties of the surrounding medium. As a consequence, to improve our understanding of active fault zones, fault slip and the evolving physical properties must be studied as a unique system of stress accommodation and no longer as two distinct entities. To tackle this problem, we have developed a micromechanics-based constitutive model, thermodynamically argued, that can determine the inelastic behavior at macroscopic scale that arises from structural rearrangements at microscale. It is therefore the compulsory tool to emulate the strong coupling between the bulk and the fault that prevails during earthquakes. With this code, we can reproduce the strain rate sensitive, non-linear stress-strain relationship that leads to off-fault damage as a seismic event is propagating. We explore different scenarii and we show that there is a unique off-fault damage pattern associated with supershear transition of an earthquake rupture, that is also observed in the field.  We define, in return, the impact of damage on the propagation of the earthquake in itself and the generated waves. We conclude by assessing the kinetic energy, the dissipated energy and the radiated energy to define how energy is consumed within crustal systems during seismic events.

How to cite: Thomas, M. Y. and Bhat, H. S.: Impact of coseismic off-fault damage on the overall energy budget., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8030,, 2020.

EGU2020-16230 | Displays | TS2.5

Energy budget of laboratory earthquakes: a comparison between linear elastic fracture mechanics approach and experimental approach.

Marie Violay, Federica Paglialunga, and François X. Passelègue

Earthquakes correspond to a sudden release of elastic energy stored during inter-seismic period by tectonic loading around fault. The earthquake energy budget consists of four non-independent terms: the energy release rate (by unit crack length), the fracture energy, the heat term and finally the radiated energy. These terms depend on the rupture and sliding velocities, the amount of slip and the stress drop. Because of the impossibility to access to stress and strain conditions at depth, the earthquake energy budget cannot be fully constrained from seismological data, limiting our understanding of its influence on rupture propagation.

To address this issue, we conducted stick-slip experiments with large samples in a biaxial configuration apparatus. By imposing constant normal load and increasing shear load, seismic events were produced on a 20 cm long fault, for which the energy budget was estimated using different methods.

Fracture energy was estimated by recording the strain field around the crack tip through high frequency (2 MHz) strain gage rosettes array and comparing it to the theoretical LEFM strain field predictions obtained for same conditions (i.e. rupture velocity, distance from the fault). Fracture energies were then inverted and found to range in between 1 and 10 J/m2. At the same time the energy partitioning was estimated through stress-slip evolution during rupture. The fracture energies obtained from this method are almost one order of magnitude larger than the ones inverted from LEFM and range in between 1 and 90 J/m2. Moreover, the energy partitioning shows the radiated energy ranging between 80 and 300 J/m2 and finally the heat/thermal energy as the largest fraction of the energy partitioning with values ranging from 200 to 2500 J/m2. Our preliminary results highlight the importance of understanding the contribution of heat energy in frictional processes, since this term cannot be estimated from seismological data.

How to cite: Violay, M., Paglialunga, F., and Passelègue, F. X.: Energy budget of laboratory earthquakes: a comparison between linear elastic fracture mechanics approach and experimental approach., EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-16230,, 2020.

EGU2020-18255 | Displays | TS2.5

On the energy balance behind frictional ruptures

Fabian Barras

Earthquake ruptures are driven by the dynamic weakening of frictional strength along faults. This drop of frictional stress toward a residual level is at the origin of the slip-weakening model, which became a well-established framework to study seismic ruptures and their energy budget. In this framework, the part of frictional energy associated to the rupture propagation (i.e. the fracture energy) corresponds to the excess of frictional dissipation on top of the residual stress, also referred as the breakdown work.

In this study, we test this energy partition for friction models that do not impose the magnitude of the residual stress. For example, rate-and-state models are a class of generic friction laws for which the residual stress after the rupture emerges from the interplay with the bulk elastodynamics. In this context, we simulate a frictional rupture at the interface between two linearly elastic solids and study the energy balance driving its propagation. Using dynamic fracture mechanics, we independently measure throughout the rupture the energy release rate from the bulk elastic fields and the frictional dissipation along the interface. From the comparison between these two quantities, we identify the part of interface dissipation corresponding to the fracture energy and show how the latter can be significantly smaller than the total breakdown work.

In a second phase, we test the generality of these results along another type of interface representative of mature fault zones filled with gouge.

This study shines new light on the energy budget of frictional ruptures and finds implications in the estimation of the fracture energy during earthquakes.

How to cite: Barras, F.: On the energy balance behind frictional ruptures, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18255,, 2020.

EGU2020-11253 | Displays | TS2.5

Predicting the propagation and interaction of frontal accretionary thrust faults with work optimization

Michele Cooke, Jess McBeck, and Laura Fattaruso

This study assesses the ability of work optimization to predict the spatial and temporal initiation of faults. We focus on the growth of flaws that develop into thrust faults at the toe of accretionary prisms because observations from physical laboratory accretion experiments provide rich data with which to validate the models, and the processes of accretionary thrust fault initiation remain unclear. In order to model these systems, we apply new implementations to the fault growth code GROW that improve its prediction of fault interaction using work optimization, including: 1) CPU parallelization, 2) a new growth algorithm that propagates only the most efficient fault in each growth increment, the single run mode, and 3) a new growth algorithm that only considers fault propagation from fault tips that host high sums of modes I and II stress intensity factors, KG, the limiting mode. The single and limiting mode produce the geometries that best match the observed geometries, rather than the previous algorithm that allows all the faults to propagate simultaneously, regardless of KG, the multiple and non-limiting mode. The single limiting models predict that frontal accretionary thrusts initiate at the midpack or shallower depths, consistent with findings of previous studies. The thrusts propagate upward, link with the surface, and then propagate downward and link with the detachment. The backthrust tends to propagate before the forethrust, and then influence the forethrust propagation. This temporal and spatial sequence of faulting arises from the lower compression, higher shear strain, higher Coulomb stress and higher strain energy density that develop near the wedge surface and the inflection of the wedge slope. The models reveal that the final slip distributions do not reliably indicate the initiation location of the faults, in contrast to the assumptions of previous analyses.

How to cite: Cooke, M., McBeck, J., and Fattaruso, L.: Predicting the propagation and interaction of frontal accretionary thrust faults with work optimization, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11253,, 2020.

TS3.4 – Strain localisation, deformation, fluid flow and seismic activity in subduction zones

EGU2020-3373 | Displays | TS3.4 | Highlight

Hydration- and dehydration-induced rheological heterogeneities on the deep subduction interface, and possible relationships to episodic tremor and slow slip

Whitney Behr, Carolyn Tewksbury-Christle, Alissa Kotowski, Claudio Cannizzaro, Robert Blass, and Taras Gerya

Episodic tremor and slow slip (ETS) is observed in several subduction zones down-dip of the locked megathrust, and may provide clues for preparatory processes before megathrust rupture. Exhumed rocks provide a unique opportunity to evaluate the sources of rheological heterogeneity on the subduction interface and their potential role in generating ETS-like behavior. We present data from two subduction interface shear zones representative of the down-dip extent of the megathrust: the Condrey Mountain Schist (CMS) in northern CA (greenschist to blueschist facies conditions) and the Cycladic Blueschist Unit (CBU) on Syros Island, Greece (blueschist to eclogite facies). Both complexes highlight the propensity for fluid-mediated metamorphic reactions to produce strong rheological heterogeneities:

In the CMW, hydration reactions led to progressive serpentinization of peridotite bodies that were entrained from the overriding plate and underplated along with oceanic-affinity sediments. The margins of each peridotite-serpentinite lens show extreme strain localization accommodated by dislocation glide and minor pressure solution in antigorite, whereas lens interiors show evidence for more distributed, alternating, frictional-viscous deformation, with abundant crack-seal veins occupied by antigorite, brucite and oxides that are in some places also ductilely sheared. Deformation in the surrounding metasedimentary matrix was purely viscous.

In the CBU on Syros Island, dehydration reactions in MORB-affinity basalts, subducted and underplated with oceanic and continental-affinity sediments, led to progressive development of strong eclogitic lenses within a weaker blueschist and metasedimentary matrix. The eclogite lenses are commonly coarse-grained and massive and show brittle deformation in the form of dilational and shear fractures/veins filled with quartz, white mica, glaucophane and/or chlorite. Brittle deformation in the eclogites is coeval with ductile deformation in the surrounding blueschist and metasedimentary matrix, indicating concurrent frictional-viscous flow.

Although we cannot easily distinguish transient deformation processes in exhumed rocks, we can use the following three approaches to assess whether these heterogeneities could have generated deformation behaviors similar to deep ETS: 1) We measure displacements within, and dimensions of the heterogeneities in outcrop/map-scale to estimate the maximum possible seismic moment that would be released when the frictional heterogeneities slip;  2) We compare deformation mechanisms inferred from field and microstructural observations to their expected mechanical behavior from rock deformation experiments; and 3) We use seismo-thermo-mechanical modeling to examine expected slip velocities and moment-duration ratios for frictional-viscous shear zones that are scaled to observations from nature and the lab.  

All three approaches suggest that frictional-viscous heterogeneities of the types and length-scales we observe in the exhumed rock record are compatible with ETS as documented in modern subduction zones.

How to cite: Behr, W., Tewksbury-Christle, C., Kotowski, A., Cannizzaro, C., Blass, R., and Gerya, T.: Hydration- and dehydration-induced rheological heterogeneities on the deep subduction interface, and possible relationships to episodic tremor and slow slip, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3373,, 2020.

The plate interface in subduction zones accommodates a wide range of seismic styles over different depths as a function of pressure-temperature conditions, compositional and fluid-pressure heterogeneities, deformation mechanisms, and degrees of strain localization. The shallow subduction interface (i.e. ~2-10 km subduction depths), in particular, can exhibit either slow slip events (e.g. Hikurangi) or megathrust earthquakes (e.g. Tohoku). To evaluate the factors governing these different slip behaviors, we need better constraints on the rheological properties of the shallow interface. Here we focus on exhumed rocks within the Chugach Complex of southern Alaska, which represents the Jurassic to Cretaceous shallow subduction interface of the Kula and North American plates. The Chugach is ideal because it exhibits progressive variations in subducted rock types through time, minimal post-subduction overprinting, and extensive along-strike exposure (~250 km). Our aims are to use field structural mapping, geochronology, and microstructural analysis to examine a) how strain is localized in different subducted protoliths, and b) the deformation processes, role of fluids, and strain localization mechanisms within each high strain zone. We interpret these data in the context of the relative ‘strengths’ of different materials on the shallow interface and possible styles of seismicity.  

Thus far we have characterized deformation features along a 1.25-km-thick melange belt within the Turnagain Arm region southeast of Anchorage.  The westernmost melange unit is sediment poor and consists of deep marine rocks with more chert, shale and mafic rocks than units to the east. The melange fabric is variably developed (weakly to strongly) throughout the unit and is steeply (sub-vertical) west-dipping with down-dip lineations. Quartz-calcite-filled dilational cracks are oriented perpendicular to the main melange fabric.

Drone imaging and structural mapping reveals 3 major discrete shear zones and 6-7 minor shear zones within the melange belt, all of which exhibit thrust kinematics. Major shear zones show a significant and observable strain gradient into a wide (~1 m) region of high strain and deform large blocks while minor shear zones are generally developed in narrow zones (~10-15 cm) of high strain between larger blocks. One major shear zone is developed in basalt and has closely-spaced, polished slip surfaces that define a facoidal texture; the basalt shear zone is ~1 m thick. Preserved pillows are observable in lower strain areas on either side of the shear zone but are deformed and indistinguishable within the high strain zone. The other two major shear zones are developed in shale and are matrix-supported with wispy, closely-spaced foliation and rotated porphyroclasts of chert and basalt; the shale shear zones are ~0.5-2 m thick.  

Abundant quartz-calcite veins parallel to the melange fabric and within shale shear zones record multiple generations of fluid-flow; early veins appear to be more silicic and later fluid flow involved only calcite precipitation. At the west, trench-proximal end of the mélange unit there is a 5-10 m thick silicified zone of fluid injection that is bound on one side by the basalt shear zone. Fluid injection appears to pre-date or be synchronous with shearing.

How to cite: Braden, Z. and Behr, W.: Rheological properties of the shallow subduction interface: insights from the Chugach Complex, Alaska, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5646,, 2020.

EGU2020-3285 | Displays | TS3.4

Rock record constraints on the seismic signature of subduction interface shear zones

Carolyn Tewksbury-Christle, Whitney Behr, and Mark Helper

The low velocity layer (LVL) in modern subduction zones is a 3-5 km thick region that parallels the top of the downgoing slab and is characterized by anomalously high Vp/Vs ratios (1.8-2.5) consistent with 2.5-4% fracture porosity at near-lithostatic pore fluid pressures. The LVL has been previously interpreted as partially hydrated, relatively undeformed oceanic crust at the top of the downgoing slab, but collocation of the LVL with episodic tremor and slow slip events (ETS) in modern subduction zones suggests that the LVL may alternatively represent the seismic signature of a subduction interface shear zone. 

To test this hypothesis, we use field & structural observations, geochronology, and seismic velocity calculations to compare and contrast the bulk seismic properties of a fossil subduction interface shear zone (Condrey Mountain Schist, CMS, northern CA) to properties of modern LVLs. Specifically, we 1) determined thicknesses of underplated packages (interpreted to represent the maximum thickness of the actively deforming interface) using depositional age discontinuities and high resolution structural mapping, 2) averaged the bulk rock seismic velocities weighted by mapped lithologic proportions and corrected for pressure-temperature effects, and 3) used field evidence of modifying factors (e.g., microcracks, fluid-filled veins, mineral anisotropy) to further refine the possible range of seismic velocities and effects on Vp/Vs ratio.

The CMS greenschist- to blueschist-facies units were subducted to ~25-35 km (450°C, 0.8-1.0 GPa) with limited retrogression or exhumational overprint. These rocks were underplated episodically at depth in three packages individually up to 4.5 km thick from 155-135 Ma, based on detrital zircon data. Each package is dominantly composed of metasedimentary rocks with m- to km-scale metamafic and serpentinized ultramafic lenses. Strain localization to ~1 km thick ductile shear zones between underplating episodes is collocated with km-scale serpentinized ultramafic lenses at the base of each package. Deformation was distributed and ductile with rare macro- or micro-scale prograde brittle failure in the metasedimentary or metamafic units. In the serpentinized ultramafics, ductile shear zones wrap massive blocks with prograde brittle fracture. Maximum fracture porosity estimated from relict veins is ~10%. Average Vp/Vs for the CMS is ~1.6 (lithology alone) but up to 3.0 (accounting for maximum fracture porosity).

The fossil subduction interface shear zone preserved in the CMS is consistent in both thickness and seismic signature with the LVL in modern subduction zones. Estimated Vp/Vs is higher than the LVL but assumes that all fractures are simultaneously open. The total thickness of the CMS (10+ km) is greater than the LVL, however, so previously underplated material must lose its anomalous seismic signature during underplating (e.g., due to fluid loss and transport up the slab during or after underplating). Our results support the hypothesis that LVLs in modern subduction zones represent the seismic signature of the subduction interface shear zone.

How to cite: Tewksbury-Christle, C., Behr, W., and Helper, M.: Rock record constraints on the seismic signature of subduction interface shear zones, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3285,, 2020.

EGU2020-5472 | Displays | TS3.4

Record by quartz veins of earthquakes and slow slip events

Hugues Raimbourg, Vincent Famin, Kristijan Rajic, Saskia Erdmann, Benjamin Moris-Muttoni, and Donald Fisher

Veins that form contemporaneously with deformation are the best recorders of the fluids circulating in the depths of orogenic and subduction zones. We have analyzed syn-kinematic quartz veins from accretionary prisms (Shimanto Belt in Japan, Kodiak accretionary prism in Alaska) and tectonic nappes in collisional orogens (Flysch à Helminthoïdes in the Alps, the southern domain of the variscan Montagne Noire), which formed at temperature conditions between 250 and 350°C, i.e. spanning the downdip limit of large subduction earthquakes and the generation of slow slip events. In all geological domains, veins hosted in rocks with the lower temperature conditions (~250-300°C) show quartz grains with crystallographic facets and growth rims. Cathodoluminescence (CL) imaging of these growth rims shows two different colors, a short-lived blue color and a brown one, attesting to cyclic variations in precipitation conditions. In contrast, veins hosted in rocks with the higher temperature conditions (~350°C), show a homogeneous, CL-brown colored quartz, except for some very restricted domains of crack-seal structures of CL-blue quartz found in Japan, Kodiak and Montagne Noire. Based on laser ablation and electron microprobe mapping, the variations in CL colors appear correlated with the trace element content of quartz, the short-lived CL-blue being associated with the substitution of Si4+ by Al3++Li+/H+.

Due to their ubiquitous presence in various settings, the variations in CL colors in the lower T range reflect a common, general process. We interpret these cyclic growth structures as a reflection of deformation/fracturing events, which triggered transient changes in (1) the fluid pressure through fluid flow and (2) the chemistry of the fluid due to enhanced reactivity of the fractured material. The CL-blue growth rims delineate zones where quartz growth was rapid and crystals incorporated a large proportion of Al and Li. Crystal growth continued at a lower pace after fluid pressure and composition evolved to equilibrium conditions, leading to the formation of CL-brown quartz with few substitutions of tetrahedral Si. The variations in fluid pressure fluctuated at values close to lithostatic conditions, as indicated by growth in cavities that remained open.

The crack-seal microstructures have been interpreted as the result of slow-slip events near the base of the seismogenic zone (Fisher and Brantley, 2014; Ujiie et al., 2018). Our observations on quartz composition suggest that the quartz in crack-seal microstructures records episodic variation in fluid pressure and composition, similar to vein quartz at T<~300 °C. In contrast to the cooler and shallower domain, the variations are significantly smaller, as recorded by the very limited extent of the CL-blue domains, and most if not all of the quartz growth occurred under constant physico-chemical conditions, including a near lithostatic fluid pressure. 

We conclude that quartz trace element content is a useful tool to track variations in fluid conditions. In particular, at seismogenic depths (i.e. near 250°C), fluid pressure varies significantly around a lithostatic value. In contrast, deeper, near the base of the seismogenic zone where slow slip events occur (i.e. near 350°C), the variations in fluid pressure conditions are smaller.

How to cite: Raimbourg, H., Famin, V., Rajic, K., Erdmann, S., Moris-Muttoni, B., and Fisher, D.: Record by quartz veins of earthquakes and slow slip events, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-5472,, 2020.

EGU2020-6845 | Displays | TS3.4

The coupling of dehydration and deformation results in localised fluid flow in the accretionary wedge – a novel study of calcite veins

Ismay Vénice Akker, Christoph E. Schrank, Michael W.M. Jones, Cameron M. Kewish, Alfons Berger, and Marco Herwegh

In plate-convergent settings, fluid-saturated sediments dehydrate during subduction. The sediments are subsequently accreted to the upper plate. Along their dehydration-deformation path, the initial unconsolidated soft marine sediments become thick, foliated, impermeable meta-sedimentary sequences. Fluid flow through such ‘non’-porous low-permeability rocks is concentrated in fracture networks, ranging from the mm- to the km-scale. We study the interplay between ductile and brittle deformation processes and fluid flow by investigating calcite veins in slates from the exhumed European Alpine accretionary wedge across scales (µm to km). These slates experienced peak metamorphic temperatures between 200°C and 330°C and represent the transition between the upper aseismic and seismic zone. With the use of Synchrotron X-ray Fluorescence Microscopy (SXFM), we investigate the slates by visualizing trace-element distributions. This technique shows that alternating cycles of slow pressure-dissolution processes and brittle fracturing persist over long time scales. At the micron-scale, pressure solution of the initial carbonate-rich slates is indicated by an enrichment of newly recrystallized phyllosilicates on cleavage planes and in pressure shadows. These ductile deformation features are mutually overprinted by calcite veins (aperture 10 µm), which are nicely visualized with Sr-SXFM maps. Increasing compaction and recrystallization in the slate-rich matrix leads to progressed dehydration resulting in an increased pore fluid pressure and subsequent hydrofracturing. The micron-sized fractures are immediately filled in with minerals, which are oversaturated at that time in the fluid, resulting in the formation of (i) micron-veinlets. Micron-veinlets collect (ii) into mm-cm sized veins, which themselves form (iii) vein arrays and (iv) mega-arrays, respectively at the 50-100 m and 300-400 m scale. This upscaling of fluid pathways indicates a localised fluid transport through the accretionary wedge, which has important implications for the understanding of the mechanical stability of the accretionary wedge and related seismic activity.

How to cite: Akker, I. V., Schrank, C. E., Jones, M. W. M., Kewish, C. M., Berger, A., and Herwegh, M.: The coupling of dehydration and deformation results in localised fluid flow in the accretionary wedge – a novel study of calcite veins, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6845,, 2020.

EGU2020-11961 | Displays | TS3.4

Heterogeneous stresses and deformation mechanisms at shallow crustal conditions, Hungaroa Fault Zone, Hikurangi Subduction Margin, New Zealand

Carolyn Boulton, Marcel Mizera, Maartje Hamers, Inigo Müller, Martin Ziegler, André Niemeijer, and Timothy Little

The Hungaroa Fault Zone (HFZ), an inactive thrust fault along the Hikurangi Subduction Margin, accommodated large displacements (~4–10 km) at the onset of subduction in the early Miocene. Within a 40 m-wide high-strain fault core, calcareous mudstones and marls display evidence for mixed-mode viscous flow and brittle fracture, including: discrete faults; extensional veins containing stretched calcite fibers; shear veins with calcite slickenfibers; calcite foliation-boudinage structures; calcite pressure fringes; dark dissolution seams; stylolites; embayed calcite grains; and an anastomosing phyllosilicate foliation.

Multiple observations indicate a heterogeneous stress state within the fault core. Detailed optical and electron backscatter diffraction-based texture analysis of syntectonic calcite veins and isoclinally folded limestone layers within the fault core reveal that calcite grains have experienced intracrystalline plasticity and interface mobility, and local subgrain development and dynamic recrystallisation. The recrystallized grain size in two calcite veins of 6.0±3.9 µm (n=1339; 1SD; HFZ-H4-5.2m_A;) and 7.2±4.2µm (n=406; 1SD; HFZ-H4-19.9m) indicate high differential stresses (~76–134 MPa). Hydrothermal friction experiments on a foliated, calcareous mudstone yield a friction coefficient of μ≈0.35. Using this friction coefficient in the Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion yields a maximum differential stress of 55 MPa at 4 km depth, assuming a minimum principal stress equal to the vertical stress, an average sediment density of 2350 kg/m3, and hydrostatic pore fluid pressure. Interestingly, calcareous microfossils within the foliated mudstone matrix are undeformed. Moreover, calcite veins are oriented both parallel to and highly oblique to the foliation, indicating spatial and/or temporal variations in the maximum principle stress azimuth.

To further constrain HFZ deformation conditions, clumped isotope geothermometry was performed on six syntectonic calcite veins, yielding formation temperatures of 79.3±19.9°C (95% confidence interval). These temperatures are well below those at which dynamic recrystallisation of calcite is anticipated and exclude shear heating and the migration of hotter fluids as an explanation for dynamic recrystallisation of calcite at shallow crustal levels (<5 km depth).

Our results indicate that: (1) stresses are spatiotemporally heterogeneous in crustal fault zones containing mixtures of competent and incompetent minerals; (2) heterogeneous deformation mechanisms, including frictional sliding, pressure solution, dynamic recrystallization, and mixed-mode fracturing accommodate slip in shallow crustal fault zones; and (3) brittle fractures play a pivotal role in fault zone deformation by providing fluid pathways that promote fluid-enhanced recovery and dynamic recrystallisation in the deforming calcite at remarkably low temperatures. Together, field geology, microscopy, and clumped isotope geothermometry provide a powerful method for constraining the multiscale slip behavior of large-displacement fault zones.

How to cite: Boulton, C., Mizera, M., Hamers, M., Müller, I., Ziegler, M., Niemeijer, A., and Little, T.: Heterogeneous stresses and deformation mechanisms at shallow crustal conditions, Hungaroa Fault Zone, Hikurangi Subduction Margin, New Zealand, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11961,, 2020.

EGU2020-17557 | Displays | TS3.4

Episodic fluid pressure cycling controls the interplay between Slow Slip Events and Large Megathrust Earthquakes

Claudio Petrini, Luca Dal Zilio, and Taras Gerya

Slow slip events (SSEs) are part of a spectrum of aseismic processes that relieve tectonic stress on faults. Their occurrence in subduction zones have been suggested to trigger megathrust earthquakes due to perturbations in fluid pressure. However, examples to date have been poorly recorded and physical observations of temporal fluid pressure fluctuations through slow slip cycles remain elusive. Here, we use a newly developed two-phase flow numerical model — which couples solid rock deformation and pervasive fluid flow — to show how crustal stresses and fluid pressures within subducting megathrust evolve before and during slow slip and regular events. This unified 2D numerical framework couples inertial mechanical deformation and fluid flow by using finite difference methods, marker-in-cell technique, and poro-visco-elasto-plastic rheologies. Furthermore, an adaptive time stepping allows the correct resolution of both long- and short-time scales, ranging from years to milliseconds during the dynamic propagation of earthquake rupture.

Here we show how permeability and its spatial distribution control the degree of locking along the megathrust interface and the interplay between seismic and aseismic slip. While a constant permeability leads to more regular seismic cycles, a depth dependent permeability contributes substantially to the development of two distinct megathrust zones: a shallow, locked seismogenic zone and a deep, narrow aseismic segment characterized by SSEs. Furthermore, we show that without requiring any specific friction law, our model shows that permeability, episodic stress transfer and fluid pressure cycling control the predominant slip mode along the subduction megathrust. Specifically, we find that the up-dip propagation of episodic SSEs systematically decreases the fault strength due to a continuous accumulation and release of fluid pressure within overpressured subducting interface, thus affecting the timing of large megathrust earthquakes. These results contribute to improve our understanding of the physical driving forces underlying the interplay between seismic and aseismic slip, and demonstrate that slow slip events may prove useful for short-term earthquake forecasts.

How to cite: Petrini, C., Dal Zilio, L., and Gerya, T.: Episodic fluid pressure cycling controls the interplay between Slow Slip Events and Large Megathrust Earthquakes, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-17557,, 2020.

EGU2020-12087 | Displays | TS3.4

Episodic stress tensor and fluid pressure cycling in subducting oceanic crust during Northern Hikurangi slow slip events

Emily Warren-Smith, Bill Fry, Laura Wallace, Enrique Chon, Stuart Henrys, Anne Sheehan, Kimihiro Mochizuki, Susan Schwartz, Katherine Woods, John Ristau, and Spahr Webb

The occurrence of slow slip events (SSEs) in subduction zones has been proposed to be linked to the presence of, and fluctuations in near-lithostatic fluid pressures (Pf) within the megathrust shear zone and subducting oceanic crust. In particular, the 'fault-valve' model is commonly used to describe occasional, repeated breaching of a low-permeability interface shear zone barrier, which caps an overpressured hydrothermal fluid reservoir. In this model, a precursory increase in fluid pressure may therefore be anticipated to precede megathrust rupture. Resulting activation of fractures during slip opens permeable pathways for fluid migration and fluid pressure decreases once more, until the system becomes sealed and overpressure can re-accumulate. While the priming conditions for cyclical valving behaviour have been observed at subduction zones globally, and evidence for post-megathrust rupture drainage exists, physical observations of precursory fluid pressure increases, and subsequent decreases, particularly within the subducting slab where hydrothermal fluids are sourced, remain elusive.

Here we use earthquake focal mechanisms recorded on an ocean-bottom seismic network to identify changes in the stress tensor within subducting oceanic crust during four SSEs in New Zealand’s Northern Hikurangi subduction zone. We show that the stress, or shape ratio, which describes the relative magnitudes of the principal compressive stress axes, shows repeated decreases prior to, and rapid increases during the occurrence of geodetically documented SSEs. We propose that these changes represent precursory accumulation and subsequent release of fluid pressure within overpressured subducting oceanic crust via a ‘valving’ model for megathrust slip behaviour. Our observations indicate that the timing of slow slip events on subduction megathrusts may be controlled by cyclical accumulation of fluid pressure within subducting oceanic crust.

Our model is further supported by observations of seismicity preceding a large SSE in the northern Hikurangi Margin in 2019, captured by ocean-bottom seismometers and absolute pressure recorders. Observations of microseismicity during this period indicate that a stress state conducive to vertical fluid flow was present in the downgoing plate prior to SSE initiation, before subsequently returning to a down-dip extensional state following the SSE. We propose this precursory seismicity is indicative of fluid migration towards the interface shear zone from the lower plate fluid reservoir, which may have helped triggering slip on the megathrust.

We also present preliminary results of a moment tensor study to investigate spatial and temporal patterns in earthquake source properties in SSE regions along the Hikurangi Margin. In particular, earthquakes near Porangahau – a region susceptible to dynamic triggering of tremor and where shallow SSEs occur every 5 years or so – exhibit distinctly lower double couple components than elsewhere along the margin. We attribute this to elevated fluid pressures within the crust here, which is consistent with recent observations of high seismic reflectivity from an autocorrelation study. Such high fluid pressure may control the broad range of seismic and aseismic phenomena observed at Porangahau.

How to cite: Warren-Smith, E., Fry, B., Wallace, L., Chon, E., Henrys, S., Sheehan, A., Mochizuki, K., Schwartz, S., Woods, K., Ristau, J., and Webb, S.: Episodic stress tensor and fluid pressure cycling in subducting oceanic crust during Northern Hikurangi slow slip events, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12087,, 2020.

EGU2020-20603 | Displays | TS3.4

Stress orientation variability along the Hikurangi Subduction Margin: Insights from borehole image logging

Effat Behboudi, Ivan Lokmer, David McNamara, Tom Manzocchi, Laura Wallace, Demian Saffer, Philip Barnes, Ingo Pecher, Hikweon Lee, Gil Young Kim, Hung-Yu Wu, Katerina Petronotis, Leah LeVay, Iodp Expedition372 Scientists, and Iodp Expedition375 Scientists

The Hikurangi Subduction Margin (HSM) of New Zealand is well-known for its variable seismic behaviour along strike, and across the Pacific-Australian subduction interface. Pacific-Australian plate motion is accommodated by a combination of slow slip and normal seismic events. The mechanics of slow slip earthquakes and their relationship to normal earthquakes are not well constrained, and so they represent a challenge to the development of hazard models for this region of New Zealand.Variability in a number of aspects of the stress state along the HSM may play a role in controlling the observed spatially variable seismic behaviour. Here we present preliminary analysis of stress orientation information from borehole image logs acquired from oil and gas exploration wells, and scientific wells drilled as part IODP Expedition 372. Orientations of borehole breakouts (BOs) and drilling-induced tensile fractures (DITFs) from these image logs are used to determine orientations of the minimum and maximum horizontal stress directions respectively within the upper 3 km of the over-riding Australian Plate (hanging wall of the HSM subduction interface). Our analysis reveals that present day maximum horizontal compressive stress orientation (SHmax) within the subduction hangingwall varies along the HSM strike, from NE-SW (oblique to Pacific-Australian plate motion, parallel to HSM strike) in the northern HSM, to NW-SE (oblique to Pacific-Australian plate motion and HSM strike) in the southern HSM. Some deviation from this trend can be observed in both regions. At the frontal thrust in the northern HSM, SHmax is oriented N-S, and in the southern HSM one well shows a shallow E-W oriented SHmax. The borehole image log SHmax orientations in the northern HSM are consistent with SHmax orientations derived from shallow focal mechanism inversion. In contrast, borehole image logs SHmax orientations in the south of HSM are oblique to focal mechanisms derived shallow SHmax orientations. Borehole SHmax orientations are compatible with the maximum horizontal contraction strain rate direction determined from campaign GPS surface velocities, though in the southern HSM multiple directions are determined from this technique. The difference in stress orientations along the HSM is consistent with the variation in seismic behaviour linked to changes in coupling at the subduction interface. Interestingly, it is the southern HSM, where the subduction interface is considered strongly coupled, that stress field orientations are not consistent with depth and show variability. In the northern HSM, where the subduction interface is considered to be weakly coupled, stress orientations appear broadly consistent with depth. 

How to cite: Behboudi, E., Lokmer, I., McNamara, D., Manzocchi, T., Wallace, L., Saffer, D., Barnes, P., Pecher, I., Lee, H., Kim, G. Y., Wu, H.-Y., Petronotis, K., LeVay, L., Expedition372 Scientists, I., and Expedition375 Scientists, I.: Stress orientation variability along the Hikurangi Subduction Margin: Insights from borehole image logging, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-20603,, 2020.

EGU2020-12631 | Displays | TS3.4

Stable and Unstable Shear in Altered Downgoing Slabs: Predicted Strain Localization in Magnesian Carbonates and Wadati-Benioff Seismicity

Abhishek Prakash, Caleb W Holyoke III, Peter B Kelemen, William M Lamb, Stephen H Kirby, and Andreas K Kronenberg

Seismicity of subduction zones at upper-mantle depths is commonly explained by dehydration reactions of serpentine and hydrous silicates and reductions in effective pressure. However, the conditions of Wadati-Benioff zone seismicity do not strictly correspond to temperatures and depths of serpentine dehydration, and there is no independent evidence that seawater penetrates the lithosphere to form serpentine at depths >30km below the seafloor. Altered lithosphere may contain magnesian carbonates in addition to hydrous silicates, both at the top of plates, where CO2 of seawater reacts with mantle rocks and at the base of plates where CO2 is introduced by mantle plumes.

Adapting the thermal softening model of Kelemen and Hirth (2007), we model the strain localization and shear heating within magnesite horizons embedded within an olivine host using flow laws determined experimentally for dislocation creep and diffusion creep of the carbonate layer and olivine host (Hirth and Kohlstedt, 2003; Holyoke et al., 2014). Strain rates predicted within carbonate-rich layers of downgoing slabs are much higher than those of the surrounding olivine at all conditions. However, shearing may be either stable or unstable depending on the relative rates of shear heating and conductive heat loss from the shear zone. Localized strain rates reach a steady state when shear heating and heat flow are balanced, while unstable strain rates are calculated where shear heating exceeds heat flow. Modeled strain rates accelerate to 10+1 s-1, as temperatures reach melting conditions, and stresses drop, corresponding to a seismic event. Applications of this model to the double Benioff zones of the NE Japan trench predict unstable seismic shear for both upper and lower seismic zones to subduction depths of ~300 km. For cold downgoing slabs, such as the Tonga subduction system, unstable seismic shear is predicted for carbonate horizons of altered downgoing slabs to depths exceeding 400 km.

How to cite: Prakash, A., Holyoke III, C. W., Kelemen, P. B., Lamb, W. M., Kirby, S. H., and Kronenberg, A. K.: Stable and Unstable Shear in Altered Downgoing Slabs: Predicted Strain Localization in Magnesian Carbonates and Wadati-Benioff Seismicity, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12631,, 2020.

In subduction zones, megathrust seismicity depends on the hydrogeological, thermal, physical and mechanical properties of the sediments before they enter the subduction zone and how these properties evolve through the subduction process. In particular, fluids are progressively released by compaction and/or mineral dehydration reactions as burial increases, resulting in the build-up of pore fluid pressure in low-permeability sediments that strongly affects fault behavior through its control on effective normal stress.

We use porosity, logging and chemical data to characterize compaction state and bound water content of sediments at Site C0024. This site was drilled in March 2019 during International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 358 in the anticline overlying the frontal thrust of the Nankai margin, a few kilometers landward of Sites C0006 and C0007 that were previously drilled during the NanTroSEIZE project. Sites C0024, C0006 and C0007 transect the décollement and overlying accreted Upper Shikoku Basin and wedge slope deposits. At Site C0024, the main frontal thrust at ~820 mbsf, the top of its footwall (up to ~870 mbsf) and its hanging-wall were logged. Two intervals were cored in the hanging-wall (~0-320 mbsf and ~510-652 mbsf). Four sedimentary facies were identified : (1) the slope apron (~0-4 mbsf) composed of silty clay to clayey silt hemipelagites, (2) accreted trench wedge sediments (~4–519 mbsf) composed of hemipelagites with volcanic ash layers, silt and sand turbidites, (3) outer trench-wedge sediments (~519-555 mbsf) mainly composed of hemipelagites with rare silt turbidites and volcanic ash layers and (4) accreted Upper Shikoku Basin (>555mbsf) composed of hemipelagites and volcanic ash layers. The Pliocene to Miocene accreted Upper Shikoku Basin deposits at the frontal thrust are correlated with undeformed Upper Shikoku Basin deposits at reference Sites C0011 and C0012 seaward in the incoming Shikoku Basin.

Following previous studies, we use Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC) to determine bound water content and interstitial porosity in the cored interval. Unlike total porosity commonly measured onboard, interstitial porosity is representative of the compaction state of sediments. We use interstitial porosity data to calibrate resistivity-derived porosity through the hanging-wall, the décollement and below. Resistivity-derived porosity is obtained with a resistivity model accounting for the high surface conductivity of clays based on CEC, exchangeable cation composition, LWD resistivity and gamma ray logs. We also document the evolution of the structure of micro- to macropores with depth using low pressure nitrogen adsorption/desorption, mercury injection capillary pressure and nuclear magnetic resonance.  Finally, we compare the porosity dataset at Site C0024 with that of Sites C0006 and C0007 in the frontal thrust and reference Sites C0011 and C0012 in the entering Shikoku Basin to characterize the evolution of the compaction state of sediments during accretion.

How to cite: Dutilleul, J., Conin, M., Bourlange, S., and Géraud, Y. and the Expedition 358 Science Party: Characterization of porosity from Cation Exchange Capacity and resistivity data at IODP Expedition 358 Site C0024: insights on compaction state, stress and deformation history at the frontal thrust of the Nankai margin, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11685,, 2020.

EGU2020-3231 | Displays | TS3.4

Recent advances in GNSS-A observation technology and networks and latest observation results around Japan Islands

Yusuke Yokota, Tadashi Ishikawa, Shun-ichi Watanabe, and Yuto Nakamura

Our research group has been studying advanced GNSS-A (Global Navigation Satellite System – Acoustic ranging combination) technique over two decades. In recent years, detection sensitivity of GNSS-A observations has been sophisticated by improving the accuracy and frequency of analysis technology and acoustic systems [e.g., Yokota et al., 2018, MGR; Ishikawa et al., in prep]. The current observation frequency is more than 4 times/year, the observation accuracy for each observation is less than 2 cm, and it can detect a steady deformation rate of 1 cm/year or less and an unsteady fluctuation of 5 cm or less. Also, efforts are being made to strengthen the observation network.

GNSS-A observations for the 2011 Tohoku-oki earthquake and its postseismic field revealed the details of the crustal deformation field on the Japan Trench side [Sato et al., 2011, Science; Watanabe et al., 2014, GRL]. The long-term observation data in the Nankai Trough region revealed the strain accumulation process at the interseismic period [Yokota et al., 2016, Nature; Watanabe et al., 2018, JGR; Nishimura et al., 2018, Geosphere]. Furthermore, detection and monitoring of large-scale slow slip events (SSEs) in the shallow part of the Nankai Trough was achieved by recent sensitivity improvements [Yokota & Ishikawa, 2020, Science Advances]. The detected postseismic fields, coupling condition and shallow SSEs contain universal features that should be shared in many subduction zones. Here, along with the latest observations, we discuss spatial and temporal relationships of these events, strain accumulations and releases along subduction zones around Japan by GNSS-A and its impact on slow earthquake science.

Recently, because of the need for continuous monitoring a shallow SSE, the monitoring ability of GNSS-A was also investigated. It was confirmed that relatively large-scale shallow SSE (surface deformation: > 5 cm) could be monitored. However, the ability to determine the time constant of an SSE is poor. For monitoring the detail of an SSE, it is essential to improve the observation frequency in the future. Here, we also discuss the technical issues to be considered and their solution plans (e.g., new platform and system).

How to cite: Yokota, Y., Ishikawa, T., Watanabe, S., and Nakamura, Y.: Recent advances in GNSS-A observation technology and networks and latest observation results around Japan Islands, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-3231,, 2020.

EGU2020-864 | Displays | TS3.4

An investigation on possibilty of creep on the Makran subduction zone based on deformation data

Homa Ghadimi Moghaddam, Alireza Khodaverdian, and Hamid Zafarani

Long term crustal flow of the Makran subduction zone is computed with a kinematic finite element model based on iterated weighted least squares fits to data. Data include 91 fault traces, 56 fault offset rates, 76 geodetic velocities, 1962 principal stress azimuths, and velocity boundary conditions. Model provides long-term fault slip rates, velocity, and distributed permanent strain rates between faults in the Makran region from all available kinematic data. Due to low seismicity of western Makran compared to its eastern part we defined two models to evaluate the possibility of creep in the Iranian Makran subduction. One model assumes that geodetic velocities measured adjacent to the Makran subduction zone reflect a temporarily locked subduction zone will be referred to as the “seismic deformation model”. In contrast, another model called the “half creeping deformation model” assumes that the western part of Makran may creep smoothly without any locking. In order to verify the models, the estimates of fault slip rates are compared to slip rates from merely analysing geodetic benchmark velocities or paleoseismological studies or published geological rates which have not been used in the model. Our estimated rates are all in the range of geodetic rates and are even more consistent with geological rates than previous GPS-based estimates. Another verification for the model is comparison of the computed interseismic velocities at GPS benchmarks to GPS measurements. While neither model accurately predicts these interseismic velocities at benchmarks, the half creeping deformation model is more accurate for Chabahar station than the seismic deformation model. These results have important earthquake and tsunami hazard implications. For example, Fault slip rates are the main component of time-dependent seismic hazard studies and can be used to estimate activity rates for more sophisticated earthquake models.

How to cite: Ghadimi Moghaddam, H., Khodaverdian, A., and Zafarani, H.: An investigation on possibilty of creep on the Makran subduction zone based on deformation data, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-864,, 2020.

EGU2020-8315 | Displays | TS3.4

Sounds of the deep subduction zone plumbing system: modeling non-volcanic tremor activity in a fault-valve, pore-pressure diffusive system

Gaspard Farge, Nikolai Shapiro, Claude Jaupart, and Édouard Kaminski

The activity of slow-earthquakes in subduction zones have been closely linked to fluid circulation processes — like hydro fracturation and pore-pressure pulses — on the one hand by geological observations and on the other hand by slow-earthquake triggering and interaction models. In deep fault zone environments, where slow slip events and various regimes of tremor are observed, fluids coming from metamorphic dehydration of slab sediments are channeled towards the surface. Geological observations indicate that fluid transport conditions vary significantly on short time scales, and along dip, strike and width of the fault zone. In homogeneously permeable systems where fluids transit under stable conditions, pore-pressure can be described by a diffusion equation. We use a time and space bimodal description of the transport properties to model a tremor generating, permeable fault zone. Thin zones of low permeability acting as valves are distributed along the 1D channel with a higher background permeability. When a threshold pore-pressure differential is reached, the valve permeability is brought to background levels, until the barrier is healed and closes again. In this model, the opening of a valve occurs at the same time as the source of a low-frequency earthquake (LFE) is triggered. In such a set up, sources interact uniquely due to the channeling of stress through pore-pressure diffusion, and the interaction characteristics in time/space are described in the framework of a diffusive system. When the number of sources is high, the model can reproduce clustering behaviours observed for LFE activity in subduction zones. The transition from a Poisson process description of seismicity to highly clustered, cascading events is governed by the source interaction distances, directly relating to the transport properties of the medium. In time, such a model is meant to diagnose the transport conditions in a subduction zone or a magmatic system, provided that it can be characterized by clustering statistics on the low-frequency seismicity it generates.

How to cite: Farge, G., Shapiro, N., Jaupart, C., and Kaminski, É.: Sounds of the deep subduction zone plumbing system: modeling non-volcanic tremor activity in a fault-valve, pore-pressure diffusive system, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-8315,, 2020.

EGU2020-11486 | Displays | TS3.4

Methane hydrate saturations at the Southern Hikurangi margin (New Zealand) estimated from seismic and rock physics inversion

Francesco Turco, Andrew Gorman, Gareth Crutchley, Leonardo Azevedo, Dario Grana, and Ingo Pecher

Geophysical data indicate that the Hikurangi subduction margin on New Zealand’s East Coast contains a large gas hydrate province. Gas hydrates are widespread in shallow sediments across the margin, and locally intense fluid seepage associated with methane hydrate is observed in several areas. Glendhu and Honeycomb ridges lie at the toe of the Hikurangi deformation wedge at depths ranging from 2100 to 2800 m. These two parallel four-way closure systems host concentrated methane hydrate deposits. The control on hydrate formation at these ridges is governed by steeply dipping permeable strata and fractures, which allow methane to flow upwards into the gas hydrate stability zone. Hydrate recycling at the base of the hydrate stability zone may contribute to the accumulation of highly concentrated hydrate in porous layers.
To improve the characterisation of the hydrate systems at Glendhu and Honeycomb ridges, we estimate hydrate saturation and porosity of the concentrated hydrate deposits. We first estimate elastic properties (density, compressional and shear-wave velocities) of the gas hydrate stability zone through full-waveform inversion and iterative geostatistical seismic amplitude versus angle (AVA) inversion. We then perform a petrophysical inversion based on a rock physics model to predict gas hydrate saturation and porosity of the hydrate bearing sediments along the two ridges.
Our results indicate that the high seismic amplitudes correspond to the top interface of highly concentrated hydrate deposit, with peak saturations around 35%. Because of the resolution of the seismic data we assume that the estimated properties are averaged over layers of 10 to 20 meters thickness. These saturation values are in agreement with studies conducted in other areas of concentrated hydrate accumulations in similar geologic settings.

How to cite: Turco, F., Gorman, A., Crutchley, G., Azevedo, L., Grana, D., and Pecher, I.: Methane hydrate saturations at the Southern Hikurangi margin (New Zealand) estimated from seismic and rock physics inversion, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-11486,, 2020.

TS3.5 – Faults and fractures in rocks : mechanics, occurrence, dating, stress history and fluid flow

EGU2020-18248 | Displays | TS3.5

Hydrofractures and crustal-scale fluid flow

Paul D. Bons, Tamara de Riese, Enrique Gomez-Rivas, Isaac Naaman, and Till Sachau

Fluids can circulate in all levels of the crust, as veins, ore deposits and chemical alterations and isotopic shifts indicate. It is furthermore generally accepted that faults and fractures play a central role as preferred fluid conduits. Fluid flow is, however, not only passively reacting to the presence of faults and fractures, but actively play a role in their creation, (re-) activation and sealing by mineral precipitates. This means that the interaction between fluid flow and fracturing is a two-way process, which is further controlled by tectonic activity (stress field), fluid sources and fluxes, as well as the availability of alternative fluid conduits, such as matrix porosity. Here we explore the interaction between matrix permeability and dynamic fracturing on the spatial and temporal distribution of fluid flow for upward fluid fluxes. Envisaged fluid sources can be dehydration reactions, release of igneous fluids, or release of fluids due to decompression or heating.


Our 2D numerical cellular automaton-type simulations span the whole range from steady matrix-flow to highly dynamical flow through hydrofractures. Hydrofractures are initiated when matrix flow is insufficient to maintain fluid pressures below the failure threshold. When required fluid fluxes are high and/or matrix porosity low, flow is dominated by hydrofractures and the system exhibits self-organised critical phenomena. The size of fractures achieves a power-law distribution, as failure events may sometimes trigger avalanche-like amalgamation of hydrofractures. By far most hydrofracture events only lead to local fluid flow pulses within the source area. Conductive fracture networks do not develop if hydrofractures seal relatively quickly, which can be expected in deeper crustal levels. Only the larger events span the whole system and actually drain fluid from the system. We present the 10 square km hydrothermal Hidden Valley Mega-Breccia on the Paralana Fault System in South Australia as a possible example of large-scale fluid expulsion events. Although field evidence suggests that the breccia formed over a period of at least 150 Myrs, actual cumulative fluid duration may rather have been in the order of days only. This example illustrates the extreme dynamics that crustal-scale fluid flow in hydrofractures can achieve.

How to cite: Bons, P. D., de Riese, T., Gomez-Rivas, E., Naaman, I., and Sachau, T.: Hydrofractures and crustal-scale fluid flow, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-18248,, 2020.

EGU2020-14590 | Displays | TS3.5

Fault-controlled diagenesis and fluid circulation along a major syn-rift border fault system – insights from the Dombjerg Fault, Wollaston Forland Basin, NE Greenland

Eric Salomon, Atle Rotevatn, Thomas Berg Kristensen, Sten-Andreas Grundvåg, Gijs Allard Henstra, Anna Nele Meckler, Axel Gerdes, and Richard Albert Roper

In marine rift basins, rift-climax deep-water clastics in the hanging wall of rift- or basin-bounding fault systems are commonly juxtaposed against crystalline basement rocks in the footwall. Displacing highly permeable, unconsolidated sediments against low-permeable rock distinguishes these faults significantly from others displacing hard rock. Due to limited surface exposure of such fault zones, studies elucidating their structure and evolution are rare. Consequently, their impact on fluid circulation and in-fault, near-fault, and hanging wall sediment diagenesis are also poorly understood. Motivated by this, we here investigate a well-exposed strand of a major basin-bounding fault system in the East Greenland rift system, namely the Dombjerg Fault which bounds the Wollaston Forland Basin, NE Greenland. Here, Upper Jurassic and Lower Cretaceous syn-rift deep-water clastics are juxtaposed against Caledonian metamorphic basement.

Previously, a ~1 km-wide zone of increased calcite cementation of the hanging wall sediments along the Dombjerg fault core was identified (Kristensen et al., 2016). Now, based on U/Pb calcite dating, we are able to show that cementation and formation of this zone started during the rift climax in Berrisian/Valanginian times. Using clumped isotope analysis, we determined cement formation temperatures of ~30-70˚C. Temperatures likely do not relate to the normal geothermal gradient, but to elevated fluid temperatures of upward directed circulation along the fault.

Vein formation within the cementation zone clusters between ~125-100 Ma in the post-rift stage, indicating that fracturing in the hanging wall is not directly related to the main phase of activity of the adjacent Dombjerg Fault. Vein formation temperatures range between ~30-80˚C, signifying a shallow burial depth of the hanging wall deposits. Further, similar minor element concentrations of veins and adjacent cements argue for diffusional mass transfer, which in turn infers a subdued fluid circulation and low permeability of the fracture network. These results imply that the chemical alteration zone formed an impermeable barrier quickly after sediment deposition and maintained this state even after fracture formation.

We argue that the existence of such a cementation zone should be considered in any assessments that target basin-bounding fault systems for, e.g., hydrocarbon, groundwater, geothermal energy, and carbon storage exploration. Our study highlights that the understanding fluid flow properties as well as fault-controlled diagenesis affecting the fault itself and/or adjacent basinal clastics is of great fundamental and economic importance.



Kristensen, T. B., Rotevatn, A., Peacock, D. C. P., Henstra, G. A., Midtkandal, I., and Grundvag, S. A. (2016). Structure and flow properties of syn-rift border faults: The interplay between fault damage and fault-related chemical alteration (Dombjerg Fault, Wollaston Forland, NE Greenland), J. Struct. Geol., 92, 99-115, doi:10.1016/j.jsg.2016.09.012.

How to cite: Salomon, E., Rotevatn, A., Kristensen, T. B., Grundvåg, S.-A., Henstra, G. A., Meckler, A. N., Gerdes, A., and Roper, R. A.: Fault-controlled diagenesis and fluid circulation along a major syn-rift border fault system – insights from the Dombjerg Fault, Wollaston Forland Basin, NE Greenland, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-14590,, 2020.

EGU2020-660 | Displays | TS3.5

Comb-veins as a marker for crustal-scale fluid circulation: insight from geochronological (U-Th dating), geochemical, and field to microstructural analyses along the seismogenic Val Roveto Fault (central Apennines, Italy)

Luca Smeraglia, Stefano M. Bernasconi, Fabrizio Berra, Andrea Billi, Chiara Boschi, Antonio Caracausi, Eugenio Carminati, Francesca Castorina, Carlo Doglioni, Francesco Italiano, Andrea Luca Rizzo, Ibrahim Tonguç Uysal, and Jian-xin Zhao

Comb-veins are mineral-filled fractures oriented perpendicular to fault surfaces, with their intersection with the fault surface generating lineations that are perpendicular to the downdip slip direction. Despite the large occurrence along normal faults within seismogenic extensional tectonic settings (i.e. Greece, Turkey, Italy), their origin, geochemical signature, and kinematics are still poorly constrained. Here we present the first multidisciplinary study, combining field to microscale observations (optical microscope and cathodoluminescence) with geochemical-geochronological analyses (U-Th dating, stable-clumped isotopes, Strontium isotopes, whole-rock geochemistry, and fluid inclusions), on calcite-filled comb-veins cutting through the principal surface of the seismogenic Val Roveto Fault in the central Apennines, Italy. We show that comb-veins precipitated in Late Pleistocene time (between 300 ky and 140 ky) below the present-day outcrop level at a maximum depth of ∼350 m and temperatures between 32 and 64°C from deep-seated fluids modified by reactions with crustal rocks and with a mantle contribution (up to ∼39%). The observed geochemical signature and temperatures are not compatible which those of cold meteoric water and/or shallow groundwater (maximum temperature of 12 °C) circulating within shallow aquifers (≤ 500 m depth) in the study region. Therefore, we propose that deep-seated crust/mantle-derived warm fluids were squeezed upward during earthquakes and were hence responsible for calcite precipitation at shallow depths in co-seismic comb fractures. As comb-veins are rather common, particularly along seismogenic normal faults, we suggest that further studies are necessary to test whether these veins are often of co-seismic origin. If so, they may become a unique and irreplaceable tool to unravel the seismic history and crustal-scale fluid circulation of active faults.

How to cite: Smeraglia, L., Bernasconi, S. M., Berra, F., Billi, A., Boschi, C., Caracausi, A., Carminati, E., Castorina, F., Doglioni, C., Italiano, F., Rizzo, A. L., Uysal, I. T., and Zhao, J.: Comb-veins as a marker for crustal-scale fluid circulation: insight from geochronological (U-Th dating), geochemical, and field to microstructural analyses along the seismogenic Val Roveto Fault (central Apennines, Italy), EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-660,, 2020.

EGU2020-970 | Displays | TS3.5

Deciphering orogenic and post-orogenic fluid-assisted deformations by coupling structural, mineralogical, geochemical, and geochronological investigation methods. An example from Zannone Island, Italy

Manuel Curzi, Andrea Billi, Eugenio Carminati, Richard Albert, Luca Aldega, Stefano Bernasconi, Chiara Boschi, Antonio Caracausi, Luca Cardello, Alessia Conti, Kristian Drivenes, Stefania Franchini, Axel Gerdes, Andrea Luca Rizzo, Federico Rossetti, Luca Smeraglia, Bjørn Eske Sørensen, Roelant Van der Lelij, Gianluca Vignaroli, and Giulio Viola

Zannone is a very important island, located in the Neogene-Quaternary extensional domain of the Tyrrhenian back-arc basin, as it is the unique spot where the Paleozoic (?) crystalline basement is hypotesized to be exposed in central Apennines. The exposure of such hypothetical basement in the Zannone Island is very problematic as it implies very large normal displacements (> 3 km) along surrounding faults. No such displacements are known along faults close to Zannone Island.

In this work, we study the hypothetical Paleozoic crystalline basement exposed in the Zannone Island with the main aim of understanding its geological nature and relationships with the surrounding rocks. We use a multidisciplinary approach including 1) interpretation of seismic reflection profile; 2) field survey; 3) petro-textural observations; 4) microthermometry on fluid inclusions; 5) geochemical analyses of stable and clumped isotopes; 6) Illite crystallinity and mineralogical analyses of clays and host rocks; 7) analyses of minor gaseous species (He, Ne, and Ar concentrations and isotope ratios) in fluid inclusions; 8) U-Pb geochronology of syn-tectonic calcite, and 9) K-Ar dating of syn-kinematic clay minerals.

Our results show that the hypothetical Paleozoic (?) crystalline basement exposed on the Zannone Island is, instead, represented by siliciclastic rocks of very low metamorphic grade. This is testified by the quartzarenites nature of the rocks, the presence of chloritoid and by the observed incipient foliation marked by fine-grained white micas and disposed parallel to the bedding. The contact between such siliciclastic rocks and the overlapping Triassic Dolostone is represented by a low-angle thrust cut by sets of high-angle normal faults with associated calcite mineralizations. K-Ar dating on clay minerals in fault gouge reveals that at least one event of authigenesis (i.e. fluid-assisted tectonic activity) occurred in Zannone Island <22 Ma ago. U-Pb dating on sin-tectonic calcite mineralizations allowed to constrain the compressional deformation and subsequent normal faulting in the study area at around 7 Ma. This result is consistent with the 1) described emplacement of imbricate thrust sheets onshore close to Zannone Island and 2) syn-tectonic sediments-filling basins observed by seismic reflection studies. Microthermometry on fluid inclusions and stable isotopes analyses on syn-tectonic mineralizations highlighted the involvement of two different fluids during tectonic processes. One characterized by low salinity (as NaCl equivalent; i.e. meteoric-derived fluids) and one by high salinity (as NaCl equivalent; i.e. deep crustal-derived fluids). Microthermometry on fluid inclusions allowed to constrain a wide range of P-T entrapment conditions. For this reason, we highlighted a transition from lithostatic toward hydrostatic pressure during precipitation of syn-tectonic mineralizations.

How to cite: Curzi, M., Billi, A., Carminati, E., Albert, R., Aldega, L., Bernasconi, S., Boschi, C., Caracausi, A., Cardello, L., Conti, A., Drivenes, K., Franchini, S., Gerdes, A., Rizzo, A. L., Rossetti, F., Smeraglia, L., Sørensen, B. E., Van der Lelij, R., Vignaroli, G., and Viola, G.: Deciphering orogenic and post-orogenic fluid-assisted deformations by coupling structural, mineralogical, geochemical, and geochronological investigation methods. An example from Zannone Island, Italy, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-970,, 2020.

EGU2020-2866 | Displays | TS3.5

Cyclicity of paleofluid infiltration in the active Mount Morrone Fault System (central Apennines, Italy) constrained by carbonate concretions

Gianluca Vignaroli, Valentina Argante, Federico Rossetti, Lorenzo Petracchini, Michele Soligo, Mauro Brilli, Tsai-Luen Yu, and Chuan-Chou Shen

Active faults are characterized by creation/destruction of secondary (tectonic) permeability in response to a continuous interplay between deformation and fluid press