ABSTRACT

Two preferred textures were observed in the Alhama de Murcia Fault rocks: (a) foliated bands (>100 µm thick) rich in well-crystallized dioctahedral micas, quartz, hematite and dolomite; and (b) ultrafine-grained bands (<100 µm thick) made of patches composed of small mica crystals (<15 µm) and dispersed Fe-oxides. In both textures, kaolinite forms intergrowths or patches of randomly oriented crystals filling gaps or opening layers of presumably inherited detrital mica crystals, which is interpreted as an epitaxial growth from fluids. The Na/K ratio of mica crystals in the thin ultrafine-grained bands shows a wider range than the micas from the foliated bands including muscovitic, intermediate Na/K and paragonitic compositions. The absence of the 0.98 nm intermediate peak in the diffractograms indicates that the small micas are submicroscopically paragonite and phengite intergrowths. The d001 values of the K-dioctahedral micas in the <2 µm and whole fractions are clearly different from each other. The d001 values of micas of the <2 µm fraction are larger, indicating a higher K and lower Na content in the small micas. Their composition corresponds to lower temperatures, suggesting their growth during a genetic episode in the fault. The textural relationships indicate a late growth of kaolinite, probably due to the fluid–rock interaction along fault planes and fractures. The neoformed clay minerals might alter the stability of the fault plane. The absence of expandable clay minerals and the relatively high frictional strength of kaolinite under wet conditions might explain the observed velocity-neutral behaviour of this gouge and earthquake propagation towards the surface.

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