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The role of quartz cementation in the seismic cycle: a critical review

Williams, Randolph T. and Fagereng, Åke ORCID: 2022. The role of quartz cementation in the seismic cycle: a critical review. Reviews of Geophysics 60 (1) , e2021RG000768. 10.1029/2021RG000768

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Because quartz veins are common in fault zones exhumed from earthquake nucleation temperatures (150°C–350°C), quartz cementation may be an important mechanism of strength recovery between earthquakes. This interpretation requires that cementation occurs within a single interseismic period. We review slip-related processes that have been argued to allow rapid quartz precipitation in faults, including: advection of silica-saturated fluids, coseismic pore-fluid pressure drops, frictional heating, dissolutionprecipitation creep, precipitation of amorphous phases, and variations in fluid and mineral-surface chemistry. We assess the rate and magnitude of quartz growth that may result from each of the examined mechanisms. We find limitations to the kinetics and mass balance of silica precipitation that emphasize two end-member regimes. First, the mechanisms we explore, given current kinetic constraints, cannot explain mesoscale fault-fracture vein networks developing, even incrementally, on interseismic timescales. On the other hand, some mechanisms appear capable, isolated or in combination, of cementing micrometer-to-millimeter thick principal slip surfaces in days to years. This does not explain extensive vein networks in fault damage zones, but allows the involvement of quartz cements in fault healing. These end-members lead us to hypothesize that high flux scenarios, although more important for voluminous hydrothermal mineralization, may be of subsidiary importance to local, diffusive mass transport in low fluid-flux faults when discussing the mechanical implications of quartz cements. A renewed emphasis on the controls on quartz cementation rates in fault zones will, however, be integral to developing a more complete understanding of strength recovery following earthquake rupture

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
ISSN: 8755-1209
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 4 February 2022
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 20:19

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