Microstructural Evolution of an Extensional Shear Zone: the Transition from Dislocation Creep to Grain Boundary Sliding in Naturally Deformed Plagioclase

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 2:10 PM
Elena Miranda, California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA, United States, Greg Hirth, Brown Univeristy, Providence, RI, United States and Barbara E John, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
We present microstructural, LPO, and misorientation data from EBSD analyses to interpret the deformation mechanisms of naturally deformed plagioclase in an amphibolite-facies extensional shear zone within oceanic crust. Textural data and mineral chemistry data for thermometry were acquired on samples of gabbro mylonite collected from the footwall of the Atlantis Bank oceanic core complex; we focus on a monophase plagioclase layer with a high ratio of recrystallized matrix grains to porphyroclasts.

Sample microstructures are subdivided into three regions: seven porphyroclasts, recrystallized grains immediately adjacent to those porphyroclasts, and the population of recrystallized matrix grains. All porphyroclasts exhibit subgrain development and show clustering of low-angle (3-10º) misorientation axes within the {010} plane, consistent with slip on {010}. However, only one porphyroclast is oriented for operation of the {010}<001> easy slip system. The small recrystallized grains immediately adjacent to the porphyroclasts do not show a host control relationship with their respective porphyroclasts, and these grains are also smaller than the subgrains of the porphyroclasts. Recrystallized matrix grains are fine-grained (mean grain size ~ 8 μm) and slightly elongate parallel to foliation, with local misorientations concentrated along grain boundaries and junctions. They exhibit a weak, nonrandom LPO suggesting the activity of the {111}<110> slip system, and their neighbor-pair misorientations are shifted towards higher angles.

We interpret the distinctive relationships between the three regions as evidence of a transition from dislocation creep to dislocation-accommodated grain boundary sliding (DisGBS). Porphyroclast subgrains and misorientation axes suggest the operation of dislocation creep, but the lack of host control in the adjacent recrystallized grains precludes grain size reduction through subgrain rotation recrystallization alone. High driving force bulge nucleation likely contributed to the grain size reduction and recrystallization of matrix grains, triggering the onset of grain size sensitive DisGBS. We suggest that the transition between deformation mechanisms is an effective weakening mechanism that contributed to development of the shear zone.