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Characterization of microstructures and interpretation of flow mechanisms in naturally deformed, fine-grained anhydrite by means of EBSD analysis

By
Rebecca C. Hildyard
Rebecca C. Hildyard
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
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David J. Prior
David J. Prior
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
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Elisabetta Mariani
Elisabetta Mariani
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
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Daniel R. Faulkner
Daniel R. Faulkner
Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences, University of Liverpool, 4 Brownlow Street, Liverpool L69 3GP, UK
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Published:
January 01, 2011

Abstract

Anhydrite-rich layers within foreland fold and thrust belts are frequently observed to be the weakest horizon of the sequence. Characterizing the microstructure of anhydrite is therefore important for interpreting the larger-scale deformation history of these rocks. Two microstructures from naturally deformed, fine-grained (<15 µm mean grain size) anhydrite samples from the Triassic Evaporites of the Umbria–Marche Apennines, Italy were analysed using electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD). Microstructural observations, misorientation analysis and crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) determination were carried out on these samples. Both samples have a CPO characterized by alignment of 〈001〉 and distribution of 〈100〉 and 〈010〉 on a great circle normal to this. This anhydrite 〈001〉 ‘fibre texture’ has not been described before. Microstructure A is characterized by a moderate to weak CPO and a weak shape preferred orientation at 55° to 70° from the trace of the 〈001〉 maximum. Low-angle boundaries are revealed by misorientation analysis. A change in grain size from c. 10 to c. 7 µm corresponds to reduction in strength of CPO and reduction in the number of low-angle grain boundaries. Microstructure B is characterized by a very strong CPO. The orientation of the CPO changes between different microstructural domains. The 〈001〉 maximum is always perpendicular to the trace of a strong grain elongation and high-angle grain boundaries have misorientations close to 〈001〉, suggesting that the CPO is geometrically controlled: anhydrite grains are platy with 〈001〉 short axes. The origin of the CPO is therefore unclear but it need not relate to dislocation creep deformation. Whether or not CPO relates to dislocation creep, both samples have a high number of lower-angle grain boundaries and internal grain distortions with 〈010〉 and 〈001〉 misorientation axes. These are indicative of dislocation activity and the data are best explained by slip on either (100)[010] (dominant) and (001)[100] or a combination of these. Neither of these slip systems has been recognized before. Both microstructures are interpreted to have undergone dynamic recrystallization, and the weakening of the CPO with decreasing grain size in microstructure A is suggested to be indicative of a grain-boundary sliding mechanism becoming active. Comparison with experimental data shows that creep mechanisms involving dislocations at the observed grain sizes require the differential stress magnitudes driving deformation to be greater than c. 100 MPa.

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Contents

Geological Society, London, Special Publications

Deformation Mechanisms, Rheology and Tectonics: Microstructures, Mechanics and Anisotropy

David J. Prior
David J. Prior
University of Otago, New Zealand
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Ernest H. Rutter
Ernest H. Rutter
University of Manchester, UK
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Daniel J. Tatham
Daniel J. Tatham
University of Liverpool, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
360
ISBN electronic:
9781862394483
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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