Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Embrittlement within viscous shear zones across the base of the subduction thrust seismogenic zone

Tulley, C. J., Fagereng, Å. ORCID:, Ujiie, K., Diener, J. F. A. and Harris, C. 2022. Embrittlement within viscous shear zones across the base of the subduction thrust seismogenic zone. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 23 (8) , e2021GC010208. 10.1029/2021GC010208

[thumbnail of Geochem Geophys Geosyst - 2022 - Tulley - Embrittlement Within Viscous Shear Zones Across the Base of the Subduction Thrust.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (5MB) | Preview


Geophysical observations indicate that patches of localised fracturing occur within otherwise viscous regions of subduction plate boundaries. These observations place uncertainty on the possible down-dip extent of the seismogenic zone, and as a result the maximum magnitude of subduction thrust earthquakes. However, the processes controlling where and how localised fracturing occurs within otherwise viscous shear zones are unclear. We examined three exposures of exhumed plate boundary on Kyushu, Japan, which contain subducted sediments and hydrated oceanic crust deformed at ∼300 to ∼500 °C. These exposures preserve subduction-related viscous deformation, which in two of the studied exposures has a mutually overprinting relationship with quartz veins, indicating localised cyclical embrittlement. Where observed, fractures are commonly near lithological contacts that form viscosity contrasts. Mineral equilibrium calculations for a metabasalt composition indicate that exposures showing cyclical embrittlement deformed at pressure-temperature conditions near dehydration reactions that consume prehnite and chlorite. In contrast, dominantly viscous deformation occurred at intervening pressure-temperature conditions. We infer that at conditions close to metamorphic dehydration reactions, only small stress perturbations are required for transient embrittlement, driven by localised dehydration reactions reducing effective stress, and/or locally increased shear stresses along rheological contrasts. Our results show that the protolith composition of the subducting oceanic lithosphere controls the locations and magnitudes of dehydration reactions, and the viscosity of metamorphosed oceanic crust. Therefore, compositional variations might drive substantial variations in slip style.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: American Geophysical Union
ISSN: 1525-2027
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 18 July 2022
Date of Acceptance: 27 May 2022
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2023 18:03

Citation Data

Cited 3 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics