Dissecting Oceanic Detachment Faults: Fault Zone Geometry, Deformation Mechanisms, and Nature of Fluid-Rock Interactions
Abstract:To understand the extreme strain localization at long-lived oceanic detachment faults rooting deeply below the axis, we present results of geological investigations at the 13°19’N detachment along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, conducted during the ODEMAR cruise (Nov-Dec13, NO Pourquoi Pas?) with ROV Victor6000 (IFREMER). During this cruise we investigated and sampled the corrugated fault to understand its geometry, nature of deformation, and links to fluid flow.
We identified and explored 7 fault outcrops on the flanks of microbathymetric striations subparallel to extension. These outcrops expose extensive fault planes, with the most prominent ones extending 40-90m laterally, and up to 10 m vertically. These fault surfaces systematically show subhorizontal striations subparallel to extension, and define slabs of fault-rock that are flat and also striated at sample scale. Visual observations show a complex detachment fault zone, with anastomosing fault planes at outcrop scale (1-10 m), with a highly heterogeneous distribution of deformation. We observe heterogeneity in fault-rock nature at outcrop scale. In situ samples from striated faults are primarily basalt breccias with prior green-schist facies alteration, and a few ultramafic fault-rocks that show a complex deformation history, with early schistose textures, brittlely reworked as clasts within the fault. The basalt breccias show variable silicification and associated sulfides, recording important fluid-rock interactions during exhumation.
To understand the link between fluid and deformation during exhumation, we will present microstructural observation of deformation textures, composition, and distribution and origin of quartz and sulfides, as well as constraints on the temperature of silicifying fluids from fluid inclusions in quartz. These results allow us to characterize in detail the detachment fault zone geometry, and investigate the timing of silicification relative to deformation.