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Abstract

A sequence of bentonite and shale samples in a gouge zone of the Lewis Thrust (Alberta, Canada) that display increasing degree of transformation of clay minerals toward the hanging wall of the thrust has been studied by X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray texture goniometry (XTG), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and transmission and analytical electron microscopy (ΤΈΜ–ΑΕΜ), to examine the relations among mineral transformations, microfabrics and fault zone properties. TEM images of authigenic clays show abundant smectite in shale away from the hanging wall, characterized by anasto-mosing layers with an average orientation that parallels bedding, coexisting with uncom-mon RI illite–smectite (I–S). In the sample nearest the hanging wall, by contrast, the dominant clay is mixed-layered, illite-rich illite-smectite (R1 I–S), coexisting with discrete illite, occurring in individual packets of relatively straight layers with well-defined boundaries. Deformed clay packets are common. Pore space, where packets intersect at high angles to one another and to bedding, is abundant (c. 25%). The microfabric and proportion of illite of intermediate samples are transitional to these end-members. Interlayered bentonite samples show properties that are similar to those of shale. TEM observations are supported by quantification of the fabrics using XTG, which shows that the intensity of clay preferred orientation decreases significantly with increasing illitization. These relations imply that faulting was the cause of mineral transformations and formation of secondary pore space. The illitization reaction rate was enhanced both by stress-induced defects in clays, and by increased water/rock ratio resulting from deformation-related pore space, resulting in lowering of the effective stress. The deformation-enhanced reaction thus created a positive feedback for further faulting in clay gouge, leading to enhanced weakening of the fault zone.

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