Abstract

Shear zones channelize fluid flow in Earth’s crust. However, little is known about deep crustal fluid migration and how fluids are channelized and distributed in a deforming lower crustal shear zone. This study investigates the deformation mechanisms, fluid-rock interaction, and development of porosity in a monzonite ultramylonite from Lofoten, northern Norway. The rock was deformed and transformed into an ultramylonite under lower crustal conditions (temperature = 700–730 °C, pressure = 0.65–0.8 GPa). The ultramylonite consists of feldspathic layers and domains of amphibole + quartz + calcite, which result from hydration reactions of magmatic clinopyroxene. The average grain size in both domains is <25 μm. Microstructural observations and electron backscatter diffraction analysis are consistent with diffusion creep as the dominant deformation mechanism in both domains. Festoons of isolated quartz grains define C′-type bands in feldspathic layers. These quartz grains do not show a crystallographic preferred orientation. The alignment of quartz grains is parallel to the preferred elongation of pores in the ultramylonites, as evidenced from synchrotron X-ray microtomography. Such C′-type bands are interpreted as creep cavitation bands resulting from diffusion creep deformation associated with grain boundary sliding. Mass-balance calculation indicates a 2% volume increase during the protolith-ultramylonite transformation, which is consistent with synkinematic formation of creep cavities producing dilatancy. Thus, this study presents evidence that creep cavitation bands may control deep crustal porosity and fluid flow. Nucleation of new phases in creep cavitation bands inhibits grain growth and enhances the activity of grain size–sensitive creep, thereby stabilizing strain localization in the polymineralic ultramylonites.

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