University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Bullard Laboratories Wednesday Seminars > Creeping gabbro: Mafic rock deformation from nature and experiments

Creeping gabbro: Mafic rock deformation from nature and experiments

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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. In this seminar, I will show results of microstructural and chemical analysis that indicate dissolution-precipitation creep (as a type of diffusion creep) plays a major role in deformation of gabbro lenses at upper amphibolite facies conditions. 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.

This talk is part of the Bullard Laboratories Wednesday Seminars series.

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