Nanoscale earthquake records preserved in plagioclase microfractures from the lower continental crust

Petley-Ragan, Arianne J.; Plümper, Oliver; Ildefonse, Benoit; Jamtveit, Bjørn

Seismic faulting causes wall rock damage, which is driven by both mechanical and thermal stress. In the lower crust, co-seismic damage increases wall rock permeability, permits fluid infiltration and triggers metamorphic reactions that transform rock rheology. Wall rock microstructures reveal high-stress conditions near earthquake faults; however, there is limited documentation on the effects of a thermal pulse coupled with fluid infiltration. Here, we present a transmission electron microscopy study of co-seismic microfractures in plagioclase feldspar from lower crustal granulites from the Bergen Arcs, Western Norway. Focused ion beam foils are collected 1.25 mm and 1.8 cm from a 1.3 mm thick eclogite facies pseudotachylyte vein. Dislocation-free plagioclase and K-feldspar aggregates in the microfractures record a history of fluid introduction and recovery from a short-lived high-stress state caused by slip along the nearby fault. The feldspar aggregates retain the crystallographic orientation of their host and are elongated subparallel to the pseudotachylyte. We propose that plagioclase partially amorphized along the microfractures at peak stress conditions followed by repolymerization to form dislocation-free grain aggregates. Repolymerization and recrystallization were enhanced by the infiltration of fluids that transported Ca and K into the microfractures. Subsequent cooling led to exsolution of intermediate plagioclase compositions and the formation of the Bøggild–Huttenlocher intergrowth in the grains from the fracture closest to the pseudotachylyte. Our findings provide unequivocal evidence that the introduction of fluids in the microfractures occurred within the timescale of the thermal perturbation, prompting rapid annealing of damaged wall rock soon after earthquake rupture.



Petley-Ragan, Arianne J. / Plümper, Oliver / Ildefonse, Benoit / et al: Nanoscale earthquake records preserved in plagioclase microfractures from the lower continental crust. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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Rechteinhaber: Arianne J. Petley-Ragan et al.

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