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Abstract

Pressure solution creep rates and interface structures have been measured by two methods on calcite single crystals. In the first kind of experiments, calcite monocrystals were indented at 40 °C for six weeks using ceramic indenters under stresses in the 50–200 MPa range in a saturated solution of calcite and in a calcite-saturated aqueous solution of NH4Cl. The deformation (depth of the hole below the indenter) is measured ex situ at the end of the experiment. In the second type of experiment, calcite monocrystals were indented by spherical glass indenters for 200 hours under stresses in the 0–100 MPa range at room temperature in a saturated aqueous solution of calcite. The displacement of the indenter was continuously recorded using a specially constructed differential dilatometer. The experiments conducted in a calcite-saturated aqueous solution of NH4Cl show an enhanced indentation rate owing to the fairly high solubility of calcite in this solution. In contrast, the experiments conducted in a calcite-saturated aqueous solution show moderate indentation rate and the dry control experiments did not show any measurable deformation. The rate of calcite indentation is found to be inversely proportional to the indenter diameter, thus indicating that the process is diffusion-controlled. The microcracks in the dissolution region under the indenter dramatically enhance the rate of calcite indentation by a significant reduction of the distance of solute transport in the trapped fluid phase. This result indicates that care should be taken in extrapolating the kinetic data of pressure solution creep from one mineral to another.

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