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Earthquakes produce carbon dioxide in crustal faults

Abstract : Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) micro-analysis of pseudotachylytes (i.e. friction-induced melts produced by seismic slip) from the Nojima fault (Japan) reveals that earthquakes almost instantaneously expel 99 wt% of the wall rock CO2 content. Carbon is exsolved because it is upersaturated in the friction melts. By extrapolation to a crustal-scale fault rupture, large events such as the M7.2 Kobe earthquake (1995) may yield a total production of 1.8 to 3.4 × 103 tons CO2 within a few seconds. This extraordinary release of CO2 can cause a flash fluid pressure increase in the fault plane, and therefore enhance earthquake slip or trigger aftershocks; it may also explain the anomalous discharge of carbon monitored in nearby fault springs after large earthquakes. Because carbon saturation in silicate melts is pressure-dependent, FTIR can be used as a new tool to constrain the maximum depth of pseudotachylyte formation in exhumed faults.
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Submitted on : Friday, December 14, 2007 - 2:50:27 PM
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Vincent Famin, Satoru Nakashima, Anne-Marie Boullier, Koichiro Fujimoto, Tetsuro Hirono. Earthquakes produce carbon dioxide in crustal faults. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2008, 265 (3-4), pp.487-497. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2007.10.041⟩. ⟨insu-00197197⟩



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