Wrench faults down to the asthenosphere: geological and geophysical evidence and thermomechanical effects
A. Vauchez, A. Tommasi, 2003. "Wrench faults down to the asthenosphere: geological and geophysical evidence and thermomechanical effects", Intraplate Strike-Slip Deformation Belts, F. Storti, R. E. Holdsworth, F. Salvini
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We review a set of geological and geophysical observations that strongly support a coherent deformation of the entire lithosphere in major intracontinental wrench faults. Tectonic studies of wrench faults eroded down to the middle to lower crust show that, even in cases in which the lower to middle crust is partially melted, strain remains localized (although less efficiently) in transcurrent shear zones. Seismic profiling as well as seismic tomography and magnetotelluric soundings provide strong argument in favour of major wrench faults crosscutting the Moho and deforming the upper mantle. Pn velocity anisotropy, shear-wave splitting and electric conductivity anisotropy measurements over major wrench faults and in transpressional domains support that a wrench fault fabric exists over most or even the entire lithosphere thickness. These seismic and electrical anisotropies are generated by a crystallographic preferred orientation of olivine and pyroxenes developed in the mantle during the fault activity, which is frozen in the lithospheric mantle when the deformation stops. The preservation of such a ‘wrench fault type’ fabric within the upper mantle may have major effects on the subsequent tectonothermal behaviour of continents, because olivine is mechanically and thermally anisotropic. Indeed, the association of numerical models and laboratory data on textured mantle rocks strongly suggests that the orogenic continental lithosphere is an anisotropic medium with regards to its stiffness and to heat diffusion. This anisotropy may explain the frequent reactivation, at the continents scale, of ancient lithospheric-scale wrench faults and transpressional belts during subsequent tectonic events.
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Intraplate Strike-Slip Deformation Belts
Intraplate strike-slip deformation belts are common tectonic features, particularly at convergent plate boundaries, where they are produced by both oblique convergence and continental indentation. These lithosphere-scale structures, which also occur in other geodynamic environments such as passive margins, are characterized by complex structural architectures, by the occurrence of large earthquakes, and by the fast uplift and/or subsidence of localized crustal sectors.
Intraplate strike-slip belts can also control the ascent and emplacement of deeply sourced magmas. In some cases, intraplate strike-slip belts link with oceanic fracture zones and transform faults, transferring transform shear from the ridges to the interior of the plates. This evidence has an important impact of the classical concept of transform faulting.
This volume contains 13 papers from an international field of contributors. Studies of intraplate strike-slip deformation belts from Africa, Antarctica, Eurasia, North America and South America are included.