Fracturing and crystal plastic behaviour of garnet under seismic stress in the dry lower continental crust (Musgrave Ranges, Central Australia)

Hawemann, Friedrich; Mancktelow, Neil; Wex, Sebastian; Pennacchioni, Giorgio; Camacho, Alfredo

Garnet is a high-strength mineral compared to other common minerals such as quartz and feldspar in the felsic crust. In felsic mylonites, garnet typically occurs as porphyroclasts that mostly evade crystal plastic deformation, except under relatively high-temperature conditions. The microstructure of granulite facies garnet in felsic lower-crustal rocks of the Musgrave Ranges (Central Australia) records both fracturing and crystal plastic deformation. Granulite facies metamorphism at inline-formula∼1200 Ma generally dehydrated the rocks and produced millimetre-sized garnets in peraluminous gneisses. A later inline-formula∼550 Ma overprint under sub-eclogitic conditions (600–700 inline-formulaC, 1.1–1.3 GPa) developed mylonitic shear zones and abundant pseudotachylyte, coeval with the neocrystallization of fine-grained, high-calcium garnet. In the mylonites, granulite facies garnet porphyroclasts are enriched in calcium along rims and fractures. However, these rims are locally narrower than otherwise comparable rims along original grain boundaries, indicating the contemporaneous diffusion and fracturing of garnet. The fractured garnets exhibit internal crystal plastic deformation, which coincides with areas of enhanced diffusion, usually along zones of crystal lattice distortion and dislocation walls associated with subgrain rotation recrystallization. The fracturing of garnet under dry lower-crustal conditions, in an otherwise viscously flowing matrix, requires transient high differential stress, most likely related to seismic rupture, consistent with the coeval development of abundant pseudotachylyte.


  • d1e174Garnet is deformed by fracturing and crystal plasticity under dry lower-crustal conditions.

  • d1e178Ca diffusion profiles indicate multiple generations of fracturing.

  • d1e182Diffusion is promoted along zones of higher dislocation density.

  • d1e186Fracturing indicates transient high-stress (seismic) events in the lower continental crust.



Hawemann, Friedrich / Mancktelow, Neil / Wex, Sebastian / et al: Fracturing and crystal plastic behaviour of garnet under seismic stress in the dry lower continental crust (Musgrave Ranges, Central Australia). 2019. Copernicus Publications.


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