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Stress sensitivity of stylolite morphology

Abstract : Stylolites are rough surfaces that form by localized stress-induced dissolution. Using a set of limestone rock samples collected at different depths from a vertical section in Cirque de Navacelles (France), we study the influence of the lithostatic stress on the stylolites morphology on the basis of a recent morphogenesis model. We measured the roughness of a series of bedding-parallel stylolites and show that their morphology exhibits a scaling invariance with two self-affine scaling regimes separated by a crossover-length (L) at the millimeter scale consistent with previous studies. The importance of the present contribution is to estimate the stylolite formation stress σ from the sample position in the stratigraphic series and compare it to the crossover-length L using the expected relationship: L ∼ σ −2. We obtained a successful prediction of the crossover behavior and reasonable absolute stress magnitude estimates using relevant parameters: depth of stylolite formation between 300 to 600 m with corresponding normal stress in the range of 10–18 MPa. Accordingly, the stylolite morphology contains a signature of the stress field during formation and we thus suggest that stylolites could be used as paleo-stress gauges of deformation processes in the upper crust.
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M. Ebner, D. Koehn, R. Toussaint, François Renard, J. Schmittbuhl. Stress sensitivity of stylolite morphology. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2009, 277 (3-4), pp.394-398. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2008.11.001⟩. ⟨insu-00352914⟩

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