Fault Zone Architecture and Mineralogy: Implications in Fluid Flow and Permeability in Crustal Scale Fault Zones in the Southern Andes.
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Fluid flow in the upper crust is controlled by the permeability and interconnection of fractures in the fault zones. The permeability within the fault zone is determined by its activity, architecture and, in particular, by the mineralogy of the core and the damage zone. Whereas the permeability structure of a fault zone can be defined by the volume proportion of the core with respect to the damage zone, the relationship between the mineralogy and permeability along fault zones still remains obscure. This work examines structural and mineralogical data to show the relationship between the mineral composition of the fault zone with its permeability in the Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault System (LOFS) and the Arc-oblique Long-lived Fault Systems (ALFS), Southern Chile. The LOFS is an active ca. 1200 km long strike-slip Cenozoic intra-arc structure that strikes NNE in its master traces and NE in its subsidiary traces, with dextral and dextral-normal movement mostly developed in the last 6 My. Although the LOFS and the ALFS cross-cut each other, the ALFS is an apparently older basement fault system where seismic and field evidences record sinistral, sinistral-normal and sinistral-reverse movements. One 22-m-long NE transect was mapped orthogonal to a segment of the ALFS, where host rocks are Miocene andesitic rocks. Structural and XRD sampling were conducted in the core and damage zone. Structural mapping shows a multiple core, NW-striking fault zone with foliated gouge and an asymmetric damage zone, where the hanging wall has significantly higher mesoscopic fracture density than the footwall. The hanging wall is characterized by NW-striking, steeply dipping veins. Preliminary XRD results indicate the presence of homogenously distributed Ca-rich zeolite (mainly laumontite) in the core and the veins of the damage zone, which could indicate that the core acted as a conduit for low-temperature (ca. 220°C) fluids.