Character of High Temperature Mylonitic Shear Zones Associated with Oceanic Detachment Faults at the Ultra-Slow Mid-Cayman Rise

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Connor Marr1, Barbara E John1, Michael J Cheadle1 and Christopher R German2, (1)University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States, (2)WHOI, Woods Hole, MA, United States
Two well-preserved core complexes at the Mid-Cayman Rise (MCR), Mt Dent and Mt Hudson, provide an opportunity to examine the deformation history and rheology of detachment faults at an ultra-slow spreading ridge. Samples from the CAYTROUGH (1976-77) project and the Nautilus NA034 cruise (2013) were selected for detailed petrographic and microstructural study. Surface samples from Mt. Dent (near the center of the MCR) provide insight into lateral variation in footwall rock type and deformation history across a core complex in both the across and down dip directions. In contrast, sampling of Mt. Hudson (SE corner of the MCR) focuses on a high-angle, crosscutting normal fault scarp, which provides a cross section of the detachment fault system. Sampling across Mt Dent reveals that the footwall is composed of heterogeneously-distributed gabbro (47%) and peridotite (20%) with basaltic cover (33%) dominating the top of the core complex. Sampling of Mt Hudson is restricted to the normal fault scarp cutting the core complex and suggests the interior is dominated by gabbro (85% gabbro, 11% peridotite, 4% basalt). At Mt. Dent, peridotite is exposed within ~4km of the breakaway indicating that the Mt. Dent detachment does not cut Penrose-style oceanic crust.

The sample set provides evidence of a full down-temperature sequence of detachment related-fault rocks, from possible granulite and clear amphibolite mylonitizatization to prehnite-pumpellyite brittle deformation. Both detachments show low-temperature brittle deformation overprinting higher temperature plastic fabrics. Fe-Ti oxide gabbro mylonites dominate the sample set, and plastic deformation of plagioclase is recorded in samples collected as near as ~4km from the inferred breakaway along the southern flank of Mt. Dent, suggesting the brittle-plastic transition was initially at ~3km depth. Recovered samples suggest strain associated with both detachment systems is localized into discrete mylonitic shear zones (~1-10cm thick), implying that the plastic portion of the fault consists of a broad zone of thin, anastomosing shear zones. Concentrations of Ti-rich magmatic hornblende and interstitial Fe-Ti oxides in the high strain horizons are consistent with the lowermost part of the fault(s) localizing in the margins of the mush zone of a shallow magma chamber.