Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault

Rupert Sutherland, John Townend, Virginia Toy, Phaedra Upton, Jamie Coussens, Michael Allen, Laura-May Baratin, Nicolas Barth, Leeza Becroft, Carolin Boese, Austin Boles, Carolyn Boulton, Neil G. R. Broderick, Lucie Janku-Capova, Brett M. Carpenter, Bernard Célérier, Calum Chamberlain, Alan Cooper, Ashley Coutts, Simon Cox & 46 others Lisa Craw, Mai-Linh Doan, Jennifer Eccles, Dan Faulkner, Jason Grieve, Julia Grochowski, Anton Gulley, Arthur Hartog, Jamie Howarth, Katrina Jacobs, Tamara Jeppson, Naoki Kato, Steven Keys, Martina Kirilova, Yusuke Kometani, Rob Langridge, Weiren Lin, Timothy Little, Adrienn Lukacs, Deirdre Mallyon, Elisabetta Mariani, Cécile Massiot, Loren Mathewson, Ben Melosh, Catriona Menzies, Jo Moore, Luiz Morales, Chance Morgan, Hiroshi Mori, Andre Niemeijer, Osamu Nishikawa, David Prior, Katrina Sauer, Martha Savage, Anja Schleicher, Douglas R. Schmitt, Norio Shigematsu, Sam Taylor-Offord, Damon Teagle, Harold Tobin, Robert Valdez, Konrad Weaver, Thomas Wiersberg, Jack Williams, Nick Woodman, Martin Zimmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Temperature and fluid pressure conditions control rock deformation and mineralization on geological faults, and hence the distribution of earthquakes. Typical intraplate continental crust has hydrostatic fluid pressure and a near-surface thermal gradient of 31 ± 15 degrees Celsius per kilometre. At temperatures above 300-450 degrees Celsius, usually found at depths greater than 10-15 kilometres, the intra-crystalline plasticity of quartz and feldspar relieves stress by aseismic creep and earthquakes are infrequent. Hydrothermal conditions control the stability of mineral phases and hence frictional-mechanical processes associated with earthquake rupture cycles, but there are few temperature and fluid pressure data from active plate-bounding faults. Here we report results from a borehole drilled into the upper part of the Alpine Fault, which is late in its cycle of stress accumulation and expected to rupture in a magnitude 8 earthquake in the coming decades. The borehole (depth 893 metres) revealed a pore fluid pressure gradient exceeding 9 ± 1 per cent above hydrostatic levels and an average geothermal gradient of 125 ± 55 degrees Celsius per kilometre within the hanging wall of the fault. These extreme hydrothermal conditions result from rapid fault movement, which transports rock and heat from depth, and topographically driven fluid movement that concentrates heat into valleys. Shear heating may occur within the fault but is not required to explain our observations. Our data and models show that highly anomalous fluid pressure and temperature gradients in the upper part of the seismogenic zone can be created by positive feedbacks between processes of fault slip, rock fracturing and alteration, and landscape development at plate-bounding faults.

LanguageEnglish
Pages137-140
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume546
Issue number7656
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

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fluid pressure
pressure gradient
earthquake
borehole
rock
earthquake rupture
temperature
hydrostatic pressure
geothermal gradient
fault slip
hanging wall
hydrostatics
temperature gradient
pore pressure
creep
continental crust
plasticity
feldspar
rupture
mineralization

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Plus 10 non-paginated pages.

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Sutherland, R., Townend, J., Toy, V., Upton, P., Coussens, J., Allen, M., ... Zimmer, M. (2017). Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault. Nature, 546(7656), 137-140. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22355
Sutherland, Rupert ; Townend, John ; Toy, Virginia ; Upton, Phaedra ; Coussens, Jamie ; Allen, Michael ; Baratin, Laura-May ; Barth, Nicolas ; Becroft, Leeza ; Boese, Carolin ; Boles, Austin ; Boulton, Carolyn ; Broderick, Neil G. R. ; Janku-Capova, Lucie ; Carpenter, Brett M. ; Célérier, Bernard ; Chamberlain, Calum ; Cooper, Alan ; Coutts, Ashley ; Cox, Simon ; Craw, Lisa ; Doan, Mai-Linh ; Eccles, Jennifer ; Faulkner, Dan ; Grieve, Jason ; Grochowski, Julia ; Gulley, Anton ; Hartog, Arthur ; Howarth, Jamie ; Jacobs, Katrina ; Jeppson, Tamara ; Kato, Naoki ; Keys, Steven ; Kirilova, Martina ; Kometani, Yusuke ; Langridge, Rob ; Lin, Weiren ; Little, Timothy ; Lukacs, Adrienn ; Mallyon, Deirdre ; Mariani, Elisabetta ; Massiot, Cécile ; Mathewson, Loren ; Melosh, Ben ; Menzies, Catriona ; Moore, Jo ; Morales, Luiz ; Morgan, Chance ; Mori, Hiroshi ; Niemeijer, Andre ; Nishikawa, Osamu ; Prior, David ; Sauer, Katrina ; Savage, Martha ; Schleicher, Anja ; Schmitt, Douglas R. ; Shigematsu, Norio ; Taylor-Offord, Sam ; Teagle, Damon ; Tobin, Harold ; Valdez, Robert ; Weaver, Konrad ; Wiersberg, Thomas ; Williams, Jack ; Woodman, Nick ; Zimmer, Martin. / Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault. In: Nature. 2017 ; Vol. 546, No. 7656. pp. 137-140.
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abstract = "Temperature and fluid pressure conditions control rock deformation and mineralization on geological faults, and hence the distribution of earthquakes. Typical intraplate continental crust has hydrostatic fluid pressure and a near-surface thermal gradient of 31 ± 15 degrees Celsius per kilometre. At temperatures above 300-450 degrees Celsius, usually found at depths greater than 10-15 kilometres, the intra-crystalline plasticity of quartz and feldspar relieves stress by aseismic creep and earthquakes are infrequent. Hydrothermal conditions control the stability of mineral phases and hence frictional-mechanical processes associated with earthquake rupture cycles, but there are few temperature and fluid pressure data from active plate-bounding faults. Here we report results from a borehole drilled into the upper part of the Alpine Fault, which is late in its cycle of stress accumulation and expected to rupture in a magnitude 8 earthquake in the coming decades. The borehole (depth 893 metres) revealed a pore fluid pressure gradient exceeding 9 ± 1 per cent above hydrostatic levels and an average geothermal gradient of 125 ± 55 degrees Celsius per kilometre within the hanging wall of the fault. These extreme hydrothermal conditions result from rapid fault movement, which transports rock and heat from depth, and topographically driven fluid movement that concentrates heat into valleys. Shear heating may occur within the fault but is not required to explain our observations. Our data and models show that highly anomalous fluid pressure and temperature gradients in the upper part of the seismogenic zone can be created by positive feedbacks between processes of fault slip, rock fracturing and alteration, and landscape development at plate-bounding faults.",
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Sutherland, R, Townend, J, Toy, V, Upton, P, Coussens, J, Allen, M, Baratin, L-M, Barth, N, Becroft, L, Boese, C, Boles, A, Boulton, C, Broderick, NGR, Janku-Capova, L, Carpenter, BM, Célérier, B, Chamberlain, C, Cooper, A, Coutts, A, Cox, S, Craw, L, Doan, M-L, Eccles, J, Faulkner, D, Grieve, J, Grochowski, J, Gulley, A, Hartog, A, Howarth, J, Jacobs, K, Jeppson, T, Kato, N, Keys, S, Kirilova, M, Kometani, Y, Langridge, R, Lin, W, Little, T, Lukacs, A, Mallyon, D, Mariani, E, Massiot, C, Mathewson, L, Melosh, B, Menzies, C, Moore, J, Morales, L, Morgan, C, Mori, H, Niemeijer, A, Nishikawa, O, Prior, D, Sauer, K, Savage, M, Schleicher, A, Schmitt, DR, Shigematsu, N, Taylor-Offord, S, Teagle, D, Tobin, H, Valdez, R, Weaver, K, Wiersberg, T, Williams, J, Woodman, N & Zimmer, M 2017, 'Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault', Nature, vol. 546, no. 7656, pp. 137-140. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22355

Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault. / Sutherland, Rupert; Townend, John; Toy, Virginia; Upton, Phaedra; Coussens, Jamie; Allen, Michael; Baratin, Laura-May; Barth, Nicolas; Becroft, Leeza; Boese, Carolin; Boles, Austin; Boulton, Carolyn; Broderick, Neil G. R.; Janku-Capova, Lucie; Carpenter, Brett M.; Célérier, Bernard; Chamberlain, Calum; Cooper, Alan; Coutts, Ashley; Cox, Simon; Craw, Lisa; Doan, Mai-Linh; Eccles, Jennifer; Faulkner, Dan; Grieve, Jason; Grochowski, Julia; Gulley, Anton; Hartog, Arthur; Howarth, Jamie; Jacobs, Katrina; Jeppson, Tamara; Kato, Naoki; Keys, Steven; Kirilova, Martina; Kometani, Yusuke; Langridge, Rob; Lin, Weiren; Little, Timothy; Lukacs, Adrienn; Mallyon, Deirdre; Mariani, Elisabetta; Massiot, Cécile; Mathewson, Loren; Melosh, Ben; Menzies, Catriona; Moore, Jo; Morales, Luiz; Morgan, Chance; Mori, Hiroshi; Niemeijer, Andre; Nishikawa, Osamu; Prior, David; Sauer, Katrina; Savage, Martha; Schleicher, Anja; Schmitt, Douglas R.; Shigematsu, Norio; Taylor-Offord, Sam; Teagle, Damon; Tobin, Harold; Valdez, Robert; Weaver, Konrad; Wiersberg, Thomas; Williams, Jack; Woodman, Nick; Zimmer, Martin.

In: Nature, Vol. 546, No. 7656, 01.06.2017, p. 137-140.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Sutherland, Rupert

AU - Townend, John

AU - Toy, Virginia

AU - Upton, Phaedra

AU - Coussens, Jamie

AU - Allen, Michael

AU - Baratin, Laura-May

AU - Barth, Nicolas

AU - Becroft, Leeza

AU - Boese, Carolin

AU - Boles, Austin

AU - Boulton, Carolyn

AU - Broderick, Neil G. R.

AU - Janku-Capova, Lucie

AU - Carpenter, Brett M.

AU - Célérier, Bernard

AU - Chamberlain, Calum

AU - Cooper, Alan

AU - Coutts, Ashley

AU - Cox, Simon

AU - Craw, Lisa

AU - Doan, Mai-Linh

AU - Eccles, Jennifer

AU - Faulkner, Dan

AU - Grieve, Jason

AU - Grochowski, Julia

AU - Gulley, Anton

AU - Hartog, Arthur

AU - Howarth, Jamie

AU - Jacobs, Katrina

AU - Jeppson, Tamara

AU - Kato, Naoki

AU - Keys, Steven

AU - Kirilova, Martina

AU - Kometani, Yusuke

AU - Langridge, Rob

AU - Lin, Weiren

AU - Little, Timothy

AU - Lukacs, Adrienn

AU - Mallyon, Deirdre

AU - Mariani, Elisabetta

AU - Massiot, Cécile

AU - Mathewson, Loren

AU - Melosh, Ben

AU - Menzies, Catriona

AU - Moore, Jo

AU - Morales, Luiz

AU - Morgan, Chance

AU - Mori, Hiroshi

AU - Niemeijer, Andre

AU - Nishikawa, Osamu

AU - Prior, David

AU - Sauer, Katrina

AU - Savage, Martha

AU - Schleicher, Anja

AU - Schmitt, Douglas R.

AU - Shigematsu, Norio

AU - Taylor-Offord, Sam

AU - Teagle, Damon

AU - Tobin, Harold

AU - Valdez, Robert

AU - Weaver, Konrad

AU - Wiersberg, Thomas

AU - Williams, Jack

AU - Woodman, Nick

AU - Zimmer, Martin

N1 - Plus 10 non-paginated pages.

PY - 2017/6/1

Y1 - 2017/6/1

N2 - Temperature and fluid pressure conditions control rock deformation and mineralization on geological faults, and hence the distribution of earthquakes. Typical intraplate continental crust has hydrostatic fluid pressure and a near-surface thermal gradient of 31 ± 15 degrees Celsius per kilometre. At temperatures above 300-450 degrees Celsius, usually found at depths greater than 10-15 kilometres, the intra-crystalline plasticity of quartz and feldspar relieves stress by aseismic creep and earthquakes are infrequent. Hydrothermal conditions control the stability of mineral phases and hence frictional-mechanical processes associated with earthquake rupture cycles, but there are few temperature and fluid pressure data from active plate-bounding faults. Here we report results from a borehole drilled into the upper part of the Alpine Fault, which is late in its cycle of stress accumulation and expected to rupture in a magnitude 8 earthquake in the coming decades. The borehole (depth 893 metres) revealed a pore fluid pressure gradient exceeding 9 ± 1 per cent above hydrostatic levels and an average geothermal gradient of 125 ± 55 degrees Celsius per kilometre within the hanging wall of the fault. These extreme hydrothermal conditions result from rapid fault movement, which transports rock and heat from depth, and topographically driven fluid movement that concentrates heat into valleys. Shear heating may occur within the fault but is not required to explain our observations. Our data and models show that highly anomalous fluid pressure and temperature gradients in the upper part of the seismogenic zone can be created by positive feedbacks between processes of fault slip, rock fracturing and alteration, and landscape development at plate-bounding faults.

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Sutherland R, Townend J, Toy V, Upton P, Coussens J, Allen M et al. Extreme hydrothermal conditions at an active plate-bounding fault. Nature. 2017 Jun 1;546(7656):137-140. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature22355