Quartz deformation fabrics reflect stress and strain conditions in mylonites, and their interpretation has become a mainstay of kinematic and structural analysis. Quantification of grain size and shape and interpretation of textures reflecting deformation mechanisms can provide estimates of flow stress, strain rate, kinematic vorticity, and deformation temperatures. Empirical calibration and determination of quartz flow laws is based on laboratory experiments of pure samples; however, pure quartzite mylonites are relatively uncommon. In particular, phyllosilicates may localize and partition strain that can inhibit or enhance different deformation mechanisms. Experimental results demonstrate that even minor phyllosilicate content (<15 vol%) can dramatically alter the strain behavior of quartz; however, few field studies have demonstrated these effects in a natural setting.

To investigate the role of phyllosilicates on quartz strain fabrics, we quantify phyllosilicate content and distribution in quartzite mylonites from the Miocene Raft River detachment shear zone (NW Utah, USA). We use microstructural analysis and electron backscatter diffraction to quantify quartz deformation fabrics and muscovite spatial distribution, and X-ray computed tomography to quantify muscovite content in samples with varying amounts of muscovite collected across the detachment shear zone. Phyllosilicate content has a direct control on quartz deformation mechanisms, and application of piezometers and flow laws based on quartz deformation fabrics yield strain rates and flow stresses that vary by up to two orders of magnitude across our samples. These findings have important implications for the application of flow laws in quartzite mylonites and strain localization mechanisms in mid-crustal shear zones.

This content is PDF only. Please click on the PDF icon to access.