Abstract

Fault zones that slip when oriented at large angles to the maximum compressive stress, i.e., weak faults, represent a significant mechanical problem. Here we document fault weakening induced by dissolution of dolomite and subsequent precipitation of calcite + abundant talc along a low-angle normal fault. Within the fault core, talc forms an interconnected foliated network that deforms by frictional sliding along 50–200-nm-thick talc lamellae. The low frictional strength of talc, combined with dissolution-precipitation creep, can explain slip on low-angle normal faults. In addition, the stable sliding behavior of talc is consistent with the absence of strong earthquakes along such structures. The development of phyllosilicates such as talc by fluid-assisted processes within fault zones cutting Mg-rich carbonate sequences may be widespread, leading to profound and long-term fault weakness.

You do not currently have access to this article.