Strain localization by fracturing and reaction weakening — a mechanism for initiating exhumation of subcontinental mantle beneath rifted margins
M. R. Handy, H. Stünitz, 2002. "Strain localization by fracturing and reaction weakening — a mechanism for initiating exhumation of subcontinental mantle beneath rifted margins", Deformation Mechanisms, Rheology and Tectonics: Current Status and Future Perspectives, S. de Meer, M. R. Drury, J. H. P. de Bresser, G. M. Pennock
Download citation file:
Rift-related strain localization in spinel lherzolite from an exhumed passive continental margin in the Southern Alps involved two stages. (1) Critical fracturing coincided with heterogeneous nucleation of plagioclase, olivine, and hornblende aggregates to form discrete, ultrafine-grained (0.5–0.6 µm) shear zones oriented at high angles to the pre-existing foliation in the host rock. The syntectonic replacement of spinal lherzolite by lower pressure, plagioclase-hornblende lherzolite documents extensional exhumation under high temperature (700–900 °C) conditions accompanied by limited fluid infiltration. Deformation involved a combination of dislocation creep (ol) and diffusion-accommodated viscous granular flow (plag, ol, hbl aggregates). (2) Hydrous deformation at lower temperatures (200–400 °C) involved the formation of serpentine-chlorite mylonite and cataclasite along discrete, anastomozing shear zones oriented at low angles to the pre-existing foliation. Both stages involved drastic weakening, particularly once the shear zones coalesced subparallel to the extensional shearing plane. The top of the lithospheric mantle was initially strong, but is inferred to have become weaker than both the underlying mantle and the overlying mafic lower crust. The interconnection of such strong-then-weak delamination zones to form trans-lithospheric extensional shear zones accelerated rifting and led to the exhumation of subcontinental mantle during the late stages of continental breakup.
Figures & Tables
The motion and deformation of rocks are processes of fundamental importance in shaping the Earth, from outer crustal layers to the deep mantle. Reconstructions of the evolution of the Earth therefore require detailed knowledge of the geometry of deformation structures and their relative timing, of the motions leading to deformation structures and of the mechanisms governing these motions. This volume contains a collection of 22 papers on field, experimental and theoretical studies that add to our knowledge of these processes. They are a mixture of review papers oh selected topics in the field of structural geology and tectonics and papers on current issues and new techniques and are grouped into four themes:
The effect of fluids on deformation
The interpretation of microstructures and textures
Deformation mechanisms and rheology of crust and upper mantle minerals
Crust and lithosphere tectonics
The volume will appeal to researchers in the fields of structural geology and tectonophysics, both in academia and industry.