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Folded fabric tunes rock deformation and failure mode in the upper crust

Agliardi, F.; Dobbs, M.R.; Zanchetta, S.; Vinciguerra, S.. 2017 Folded fabric tunes rock deformation and failure mode in the upper crust. Scientific Reports, 7 (1), 15290. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15523-1

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Abstract/Summary

The micro-mechanisms of brittle failure affect the bulk mechanical behaviour and permeability of crustal rocks. In low-porosity crystalline rocks, these mechanisms are related to mineralogy and fabric anisotropy, while confining pressure, temperature and strain rates regulate the transition from brittle to ductile behaviour. However, the effects of folded anisotropic fabrics, widespread in orogenic settings, on the mechanical behaviour of crustal rocks are largely unknown. Here we explore the deformation and failure behaviour of a representative folded gneiss, by combining the results of triaxial deformation experiments carried out while monitoring microseismicity with microstructural and damage proxies analyses. We show that folded crystalline rocks in upper crustal conditions exhibit dramatic strength heterogeneity and contrasting failure modes at identical confining pressure and room temperature, depending on the geometrical relationships between stress and two different anisotropies associated to the folded rock fabric. These anisotropies modulate the competition among quartz- and mica-dominated microscopic damage processes, resulting in transitional brittle to semi-brittle modes under P and T much lower than expected. This has significant implications on scales relevant to seismicity, energy resources, engineering applications and geohazards.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-15523-1
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 10 Jan 2018 13:33 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/518915

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