Kinking facilitates grain nucleation and modifies crystallographic preferred orientations during high-stress ice deformation

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Sheng Fan , David J. Prior, Travis F. Hager, Andrew J. Cross, David L Goldsby, Marianne Negrini


Kinking can accommodate significant amounts of strain during crystal plastic deformation under relatively large stresses and may influence the mechanical properties of cold planetary cryosphere. To better understand the origins, mechanisms, and microstructural effects of kinking, we present detailed microstructural analyses of coarse-grained ice (~1300 µm) deformed under uniaxial compression at -30°C. Microstructural data are generated using cryogenic electron backscattered diffraction (cryo-EBSD). Deformed samples have bimodal grain size distributions, with thin and elongated (aspect ratio ≥ 4) kink domains that develop within, or at the tips of, remnant original grains (≥ 300 µm, aspect ratio < 4). Small, equiaxed subgrains also develop along margins of remnant grains. Moreover, many remnant grains are surrounded by fine-grained mantles of small, recrystallized grains (< 300 µm, aspect ratio < 4). Together, these observations indicate that grain nucleation is facilitated by both kinking and dynamic recrystallization (via subgrain rotation). Low- (< 10°) and high-angle (mostly > 10°, many > 20°) kink bands within remnant grains have misorientation axes that lie predominantly within the basal plane. Moreover, previous studies suggest the kinematics of kinking and subgrain rotation should be fundamentally the same. Therefore, progressive kinking and subgrain rotation should be crystallographically controlled, with rotation around fixed misorientation axes. Furthermore, the c-axes of most kink domains are oriented sub-perpendicular to the sample compression axis, indicating a tight correlation between kinking and the development of crystallographic preferred orientation. Kink band densities are the highest within remnant grains that have basal planes sub-parallel to the compression axis (i.e., c-axes perpendicular to the compression axis)—these data are inconsistent with models suggesting that, if kinking is the only strain-accommodating process, there should be higher kink band densities within grains that have basal planes oblique to the compression axis (for low kink-host misorientation angles, e.g., ≤ 20°, as in this study). One way to rationalize this inconsistency between kink models and experimental observations is that kinking and dynamic recrystallization are both active during deformation, but their relative activities depend on the crystallographic orientations of grains. For grains with basal planes sub-parallel to the compression axis, strain-induced GBM is inhibited, and large intragranular strain incompatibilities can be relaxed via kinking, when other processes such as subgrain rotation recrystallization are insufficient. For grains with basal planes oblique to the compression axis, strain-induced grain boundary migration (GBM) might be efficient enough to relax the strain incompatibility via selective growth of these grains, and kinking is therefore less important. For grains with basal planes sub-perpendicular to the compression axis, kink bands are seldom observed—for these grains, the minimum shear stress required for kinking exceeds the applied compressive stress, such that kinks cannot nucleate.



Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Planetary Sciences


ice, nucleation, crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO), electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD)


Published: 2021-07-28 10:19

Last Updated: 2021-07-28 14:19


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:

Data Availability (Reason not available):
Data will be available once the manuscript is accepted.

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