Direct Shear of Olivine Single Crystals at the Transition from Asthenospheric to Lithospheric Temperatures

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Jacob A Tielke, Mark E Zimmerman and David L Kohlstedt, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Models of geodynamic processes require constitutive equations that describe the rheological properties of olivine-rich mantle rocks. An extensive database exists for high-temperature deformation of olivine single crystals and aggregates. However, extrapolation of flow laws derived from high-temperature experiments to temperatures typical of the lithospheric mantle results in significant overestimation of olivine strength. Although some studies have explored the low-temperature deformation of olivine, constitutive equations describing the rheological properties of the four dominate dislocation slip systems over a large range of temperature and stress conditions have yet to be established. To investigate the rheological properties of olivine single crystals deforming by dislocation creep at asthenospheric and lithospheric temperatures, a series of direct shear experiments were carried out. The direct shear geometry permits isolation of the four dominate dislocation slip systems, whereas only two slip systems can be independently activated during triaxial compression. The experiments were carried out in a gas-medium deformation apparatus at temperatures of 1000-1300°C, a confining pressure of 300 MPa, and shear stresses of 81 to 334 MPa that result in shear strain rates of 1.0 x 10-5 to 2.6 x 10-3 s-1. At high-temperature and low-stress conditions, strain rate follows a power law relationship with stress. At low-temperature and high-stress conditions, strain rate depends exponentially on stress. These observations are consistent with a transition from strain rate limited by a climb-controlled dislocation mechanism at higher temperatures to strain rate limited by a glide-controlled dislocation mechanism at lower temperatures.