Abstract

Rocks which deform by pressure solution obey a diffusion flow law with a linear viscous or Newtonian stress to strain-rate relation. Undeformed relics of original grains preserved within newly grown crystals at grain boundaries under tension and presolved surfaces, together with accumulation of inert particles at grain boundaries under compression, are diagnostic evidence of a diffusion flow law. At a given stress, strain-rate is inversely proportional to the grain size to a power of two or three. A geologically useful plot has inverse temperature versus the logarithm of grain size as coordinates. Such a graph is separated into fields by three boundaries which meet at a triple point; within each field, either lattice diffusion, grain-boundary diffusion, or a dislocation flow law is predominant. It may be possible to calibrate this graph from naturally deformed rocks. Photomicrographs of isoclinally folded greenschist-grade quartzites and rhyolitic flows from the South Mountain–Blue Ridge area in Maryland demonstrate a diffusive mass transfer deformation mechanism, but estimates of effective diffusion coefficient compared to currently available laboratory diffusion data are insufficient to identify the diffusion path with certainty. However, the comparatively low ratio of metamorphic temperature to melting temperature and the physical nature of grain boundaries in metamorphic rocks, particularly concentrations of low-density impurities at grain boundaries, suggest the grain-boundary diffusion flow law.

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