Shape of plutons in crustal shear zones: A tectono-magmatic guide based on analogue models

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 3 of this Preprint.


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Maria Michail, Michael Rudolf, Matthias Rosenau, Alberto Riva, Piero Gianolla, Massimo Coltorti


Plutons in crustal shear zones may exploit inherited structures, interfere with strain localizing or be deformed passively. To constrain the relative timing of such tectono-magmatic constellations in natural settings is not always straight-forward. We here present sandbox-type analogue model experiments simulating magma emplacement into simple and transtensional crustal shear zones to test the diagnostic potential of pluton shape with respect to timing and setting. Observations based on surface deformation and intrusion shape exemplify the interplay between evolving and inherited tectonic structures and magma uprising. We observe markedly asymmetric intrusions in association with dikes reflecting the regional stresses, fault pattern and finite strain field. At the same time, the presence of an intrusion modifies the tectonic evolution, but only transiently, resulting in short-lived faults, reactivation and inversion. Diagnostic attributes include the pluton’s aspect ratio, its orientation and amplitude as well as dike association. Accordingly, syn-tectonic intrusions show the highest pluton amplitudes and intermediate elongation oriented parallel to between Riedel shears in simple shear, and compression in transtension. Post-tectonic intrusions are least elongated but relatively high and exploit Riedel shears. Pre-tectonic intrusions are characterized by low amplitudes and high aspect ratios parallel to the finite elongation direction. Intrusions in transtensional shear zones are generally of lower amplitude than those in simple shear zones. Experimental results are tested against observations from natural examples validating the diagnostic potential of pluton shape for the timing and the tectonic setting of the emplacement.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Tectonics, Plutons, Sandbox


Published: 2021-03-24 12:38

Last Updated: 2021-07-16 06:25

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data will be made openly available as soon as a peer-reviewed version has been published.

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