Abstract

Direct dating of brittle fault activity is of fundamental importance to tectonic reconstructions and paleoseismic studies. One way to address this issue is by constraining the timing of fault striations, but this requires a better understanding of the striation formation mechanism and associated mineralization. We present results from a microstructural, geochemical, and geochronological study of calcite precipitates associated with striated fault planes from the Dead Sea fault zone in northern Israel. We recognize four types of coexisting calcite precipitates, including calcite cement in dilation breccia, calcite in striated groove morphology, calcite gouge associated with hydraulic fracturing and pressure solution, and calcite coating of the fault surface. Carbon-oxygen isotopes, 87Sr/86Sr ratios, and rare earth element and yttrium (REY) patterns indicate various precipitation mechanisms associated with formation of syntectonic (calcite cement and striations), coseismic (calcite gouge), and interseismic (calcite coating) precipitates in the fault zone. Using U-Th dating of samples from three adjacent fault planes, we delineate four well-defined deformation ages in the period from 220 to 60 ka. We conclude that these ages constrain the timing of activity along the Dead Sea fault zone in northern Israel, and argue that a similar methodological approach could potentially shed light on the timing of deformation in other brittle fault zones.

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