Brittle-plastic deformation in initially dry rocks at fluid-present conditions: Transient behaviour of feldspar at mid-crustal levels

Linus Brander*, Henrik Svahnberg, Sandra Piazolo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


We present detailed microstructural and chemical analyses from an initially dry anorthositic rock deformed during wet amphibolite facies conditions. Three different domains representing the microstructural variation of the deformed samples are investigated in detail in terms of fracture morphology and mode, grain characteristics and chemistry of present phases. Results show transient deformational behaviour where a close interaction between brittle, plastic and fluid-assisted deformation mechanisms can be observed. Our analysis allows us to describe the succession, interrelationships and effects of active mechanisms with progressively increasing strain in three so-called stages. In Stage 1, initial fracturing along cleavage planes promoted fluid influx that caused fragmentation and chemical reactions, producing fine-grained mineral assemblages in the fractures. Deformation twins and dislocations developed in clast pieces due to stress relaxation. Passive rotation of conjugate fracture sets and interconnection of intracrystalline fractures formed micro-shear-zones, constituting Stage 2. Microstructures and grain relationships indicate the activity and fluctuation between fracturing, dissolution-precipitation creep, grain boundary sliding and locally dislocation creep, reflecting the transient behaviour of brittle and plastic deformation mechanisms. Further rotation and widening of fractures into overall foliation parallel shear-bands (Stage 3) promoted strain partitioning into these areas through increased fluid influx, influence of fluid-assisted grain boundary sliding, phase mixing and presence of weak phases such as white mica. We suggest that local differences in fluid availability, volume fraction of weak phases produced by fluid present metamorphic reactions coupled with volume increase and local variations in stress concentration induced transient brittle-plastic behaviour. The studied shear-zone represents an example of the transformation of a rigid dry rock to a soft wet rock during deformation through syntectonic fracturing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-425
Number of pages23
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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