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Microtextural investigation (SEM and TEM study) of phyllosilicates in a major thrust fault zone (Monte Perdido, southern Pyrenees): impact on fault reactivation

Abstract : Thrusting fault zone in foreland basins are characterized by highly foliated zones generally enriched in phyllosilicates which can play a major role on the mechanical behaviour of the fault. In this context, investigations of synkinematic clay minerals permit to determine the origin of the fluid from which they precipitated as well as the mechanisms of deformation. Our study is focused on clay mineral assemblages (illite and chlorite) in a major thrust fault located in the Monte Perdido massif (southern Pyrenees), a shallow thrust that affects upper cretaceous-paleocene platform carbonates and lower Eocene marls and turbidites. It implied 3 km of displacement of the Monte Perdido thrust unit with respect to the underlying Gavarnie unit. In this area the cleavage development by pressure-solution is linked to the Monte Perdido and Gavarnie thrust activity. The core zone of the fault, about 6 m thick, consists of an interval of intensely deformed clay-bearing rocks bounded by major shear surfaces. The deformed sediment is markedly darker than the protolith. Calcite-quartz shear veins along the shear planes are abundant. Detailed SEM and TEM observations of highly deformed fault zone samples indicate that clay mineral enrichment in the core zone of the fault is not only related to passive increase by pressure-solution mechanism but that dissolution-recrystallization of phyllosilicates occurs during deformation. A mineral segregation is observed in the highly deformed zone. Newly formed 2M 1 muscovite is present along the cleavage whereas IIb chlorite crystals fill SV2 shear veins suggesting syntectonic growth of phyllosilicates in the presence of fluids in low-grade metamorphic conditions. These mineralogical reactions act as weakening processes and would favour Monte Perdido fault creeping.
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Martine D. Buatier, Brice Lacroix, Pierre Labaume, Virginie Moutarlier, Delphine Charpentier, et al.. Microtextural investigation (SEM and TEM study) of phyllosilicates in a major thrust fault zone (Monte Perdido, southern Pyrenees): impact on fault reactivation. Swiss Journal of Geosciences, Springer, 2012, 105 (2), pp.313-324. ⟨10.1007/s00015-012-0098-0⟩. ⟨hal-00795553⟩

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