Dissolution precipitation creep as a process for the strain localisation in mafic rocks

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Amicia Lisbeth Lee , Holger Stünitz, Mathieu Soret , Matheus Ariel Battisti


Unaltered mafic rocks consist of mechanically strong minerals (e.g. pyroxene, plagioclase and garnet) that can be deformed by crystal plastic mechanisms only at high temperatures (>800°C). Yet, many mafic rocks do show extensive deformation by non-brittle mechanisms when they have been subjected to lower temperature conditions. In such cases, the deformation typically is assisted by mineral reactions. Here we show that dissolution-precipitation creep (as a type of diffusion creep) plays a major role in deformation of gabbro lenses at upper amphibolite facies conditions. The Kågen gabbro exposed on south Arnøya is comprised of almost undeformed gabbro lenses with sheared margins wrapping around them. The shearing has taken place at temperatures of 690 ± 25 °C and pressures of 1.0 to 1.1 GPa. This contribution analyses the evolution of the microstructures and fabric of the low strain gabbro to high strain margins. Microstructural and crystallographic preferred orientation (CPO) data indicate that dissolution-precipitation creep is the dominant deformation mechanism, where dissolution of the gabbro took place in reacting phases of clinopyroxene and plagioclase, and precipitation took place in the form of new minerals: new plagioclase and clinopyroxene (with different composition), amphibole, and garnet. Amphibole shows a strong CPO that is primarily controlled by its preferential growth in the stretching direction. Synchronous deformation and mineral reactions of clinopyroxene suggest that mafic rocks can become mechanically weak during a general transformation weakening process, i.e. the interaction of mineral reaction and deformation by diffusion creep. The weakening is directly connected to a fluid-assisted transformation process that facilitates diffusion creep deformation of strong minerals at far lower stresses and temperatures than dislocation creep. Initially strong lithologies can become weak, provided that reactions can proceed during deformation; the transformation process itself is an important weakening mechanism in mafic (and other) rocks, facilitating deformation at low differential stresses and low stress exponents.




Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Tectonics and Structure


strain localization, deformation, amphibole, mafic, dissolution precipitation creep, diffusion creep


Published: 2021-08-17 09:21

Last Updated: 2021-08-17 16:21


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Data Availability (Reason not available):
EBSD data for maps A8B 2b, 4b, 8a and 9b are available to download as channel text files from https://doi.org/10.17632/xhd6gs3fyc.1.

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