Thermochronometric and textural evidence for seismicity via asperity flash heating on exhumed hematite fault mirrors, Wasatch fault zone, UT, USA
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Dept Geosci
KeywordsHematite (U-Th)/He thermochronometry
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherELSEVIER SCIENCE BV
CitationThermochronometric and textural evidence for seismicity via asperity flash heating on exhumed hematite fault mirrors, Wasatch fault zone, UT, USA 2017, 471:85 Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Rights© 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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AbstractExhumed faults record the temperatures produced by earthquakes. We show that transient elevated fault surface temperatures preserved in the rock record are quantifiable through microtextural analysis, fault-rock thermochronometry, and thermomechanical modeling. We apply this approach to a network of mirrored, minor, hematite-coated fault surfaces in the exhumed, seismogenic Wasatch fault zone, UT, USA. Polygonal and lobate hematite crystal morphologies, coupled with hematite (U-Th)/He data patterns from these surfaces and host rock apatite (U-Th)The data, are best explained by friction-generated heat at slip interface geometric asperities. These observations inform thermomechanical simulations of flash heating at frictional contacts and resulting fractional He loss over generated fault surface time temperature histories. Temperatures of >similar to 700-1200 degrees C, depending on asperity size, are sufficient to induce 85-100% He loss from hematite within 200 pm of the fault surface. Spatially-isolated, high temperature microtextures imply spatially -variable heat generation and decay. Our results reveal that flash heating of asperities and associated frictional weakening likely promote small earthquakes (M-w approximate to -3 to 3) on Wasatch hematite fault mirrors. We suggest that similar thermal processes and resultant dynamic weakening may facilitate larger earthquakes. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Note24 month embargo; Published online 12 May 2017.
VersionFinal accepted manuscript
SponsorsNSF-EAR ; Utah State University Presidential Doctoral Research Fellowship; Tobacco Root Geological Society