Rift Fault Geometry and Distribution in Layered Basaltic Rocks: A Comparison Between the Koa’e (Hawai’i) and Krafla (Iceland) Fault Systems

Friday, 19 December 2014
Alodie Bubeck1, Richard James Walker1, Christopher J MacLeod2 and Jonathan Imber3, (1)University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1, United Kingdom, (2)Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF24, United Kingdom, (3)Univ Durham, Durham, United Kingdom
Fault systems within incipient rifts that cut basaltic rocks comprise an array of fine-scale structures, including networks of fractures and small displacement (<15 m) faults that accommodate regional extension. These zones of damaged rock have mechanical and physical properties distinct from the surrounding intact host rock. As the rift system evolves this early-formed damage can be reactivated, and influence the distribution and growth of new fractures. Constraining the role of this inter-fault deformation in rift zone development is therefore important to characterizing the regional distribution of extensional strains, and the evolving physical and fluid flow properties of the host rock. Here we use high resolution field and remote mapping of the Koa’e insipient rift fault system on the south flank of Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, and the Krafla rift system, Iceland, to investigate the evolution of segmented rift fault systems in layered basalts, formed at low confining pressures. Extension in the Koa’e system is accommodated dominantly by interaction of zones of opening-mode fractures and areas of surface flexure rather than surface-breaching normal faults, which is attributed to gravitational collapse of Kilauea. Extension in the Krafla system is localised on segmented, large displacement (>20 m) normal faults, the development of which may have been controlled by dyke emplacement. Preliminary comparison between the Koa’e and Krafla systems suggests that strain rate and/or the effective stress path plays a primary role in controlling the geometry, characteristics, and distribution of major faults, and the scale and distribution of secondary (oblique) brittle structures within rift zones.