Excess water storage induced by viscous strain localization during high-pressure shear experiment

Jacques Précigout 1, 2 Holger Stünitz 1, 2 Johan Villeneuve 3
2 Géodynamique - UMR7327
BRGM - Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières (BRGM), ISTO - Institut des Sciences de la Terre d'Orléans - UMR7327 : UMR7327, INSU - CNRS - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers , UO - Université d'Orléans : UMR7327
Abstract : Strain localization in viscously deformed rocks commonly results in fine-grained shear zones where massive fluid circulation is regularly observed. Recently attributed to strain-induced pumping, this phenomenon may have major implications for the distribution of ores deposits and rock rheology. However, although grain size reduction and/or creep cavitation have been proposed as important processes, the source mechanism of fluid concentration remains unresolved, particularly at high pressure. Here we use secondary ion mass spectrometry to document the H 2 O content of fine-grained olivine across an experimental shear zone, which developed with grain size reduction during a H 2 o-saturated shear experiment at 1.2 GPa and 900 °C. Through data interpolation, the olivine matrix reveals high fluid concentrations where shear strain is localized. These concentrations far exceed the predicted amount of H 2 o that grain boundaries can contain, excluding grain size reduction as a unique source of water storage. Instead, we show that H 2 o increases per unit of grain boundary across the shear zone, suggesting that cavitation and "healing" processes compete with each other to produce a larger pore volume with increasing strain rate. This provides an alternative process for fluids to be collected where strain rate is the highest in deep shear zones. On Earth, both the crust and mantle incorporate aqueous fluids that interact with solid rock materials in many ways. Commonly referred to as fluid-rock interactions, they strongly affect rock deformation and petrogenetic processes, giving rise, for instance, to hydrolytic weakening, pressure-solution creep or metamorphic reactions , including partial melting. During strain localization, this type of interactions may involve one or several chemo-physical processes that help to channelize fluid flow in ductile shear zones where grain size is substantially reduced. When rocks deform by sub-solidus viscous creep, strain indeed partitions into fine-grained shear bands that recurrently develop in the presence of massive fluid circulation, as revealed by the enrichment of hydrous phases 1-4 in the shear zones. Although the source process of such fluid flow localization is unknown at present, it may have critical implications for rock mechanics and distribution of ore deposits in deep Earth environments 5. Primarily attributed to seismic pumping of a pre-existing fault 1 , fluid infiltration is commonly inferred using evidence for dissolution-precipitation, which suggests a long-term process rather than a co-seismic one 3,5-7. Rutter and Brodie 8 and Wark and Watson 9 proposed that high fluid contents could occur in ductile shear zones as a result of fluid permeation in response to grain size reduction; because of high pressure and high temperature, supercritical fluids may distribute along grain boundaries as a uniform boundary film 9. However, recent observations of syn-tectonic water accumulation along mantle shear bands 4 do not support such a "passive" process for attracting fluids towards ductile shear zones. Instead, they suggest that fluids are dynamically driven by the deformation itself. There is abundant documentation of micro-pores produced during deformation of fine-grained material, including within natural shear zones in the middle/lower crust 5,7,10-15 and during deformation experiments on ceramics, metals and natural rocks 16-20. Also referred to as creep cavitation, the production of these micro-pores results either from grain boundary sliding (GBS) or, in a minor extent, from Zener-Stroh cracking if dislocations interact with grain boundaries 17. In both cases, the micro-cavities arise from limitations of the material to flow, particularly when diffusive mass transfer is slow at low temperature. This led several authors to propose that
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Jacques Précigout, Holger Stünitz, Johan Villeneuve. Excess water storage induced by viscous strain localization during high-pressure shear experiment. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), 9 p. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-40020-y⟩. ⟨insu-02059931⟩

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