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A pressure solution creep law for quartz from indentation experiments

Abstract : Indenter experiments have been performed on quartz crystals in order to establish a pressure solution creep law relevant at upper- to mid-crustal conditions. This deformation mechanism contributes to Earth's crust geodynamics, controlling processes as different as fault permeability, strength, and stress evolution during inter-seismic periods or mechano-chemical differentiation during diagenesis and metamorphism. Indenter experiments have been performed at 350°C and 20-120 MPa during months with differential stress varying from 25 to 350 MPa. Several experimental parameters were varied: nature of quartz (synthetic or natural), nature of fluid, manner the solid/solution/solid interface was filled, orientation of the indented surfaces versus quartz crystallographic c-axis. Significant strain rates could only be obtained when using high solubility solutions (NaOH 1 mole/l). Displacement rates of the indenter were found activated by differential stress, with exponential dependence, as theoretically predicted. The mean thickness of the trapped fluid phase below the indenter was estimated in the range 2-10 nanometers. Moreover, the development of this trapped fluid phase was relatively fast, and allowed fluid penetration into previously dry contact regions by marginal dissolution. The indenter displacement rate was driven by differential stress and its kinetics was controlled by diffusion along the trapped fluid and the development of a morphological roughness along the interface. Conversely, marginal strain energy driven dissolution was observed around the indenter, and its kinetics was controlled by free-surface reaction. These experimental results are applied to model the interactions between pressure solution and brittle processes in fault zones, providing characteristic time scales for post-seismic transitory creep and sealing processes in quartz-rich rocks.
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Jean Pierre Gratier, Robert Guiguet, Francois Renard, Liliane Jenatton, Dominique Bernard. A pressure solution creep law for quartz from indentation experiments. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, 2009, 114, pp.B03403. ⟨10.1029/2008JB005652⟩. ⟨insu-00352937⟩



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