Experimental constrains on shear-induced crystal breakage in magmas

Abstract : Crystal breakage occurs along margins of conduit walls and basal zones of lava flows. It is usually interpreted as flow-related textures developed at large finite strains and strains rates. We have investigated the grain size and shape distributions in an experimentally deformed crystal-melt suspension in order to constrain the temperature T, the strain γ and the strain rate γr ranges of the crystal breakage process. The starting crystal-melt suspension is composed of a haplogranitic melt with 54 vol% alumina crystals. Torsion experiments were performed in a gas medium Paterson apparatus at 300 MPa confining pressure and subsolidus temperatures. Crystal size distribution and aspect ratio of alumina grains were measured on polished sections normal to the shear direction, i.e. from the centre to the rim of the deformed cylinders. A first minor occurrence of crystal breakage is evidenced in all experiments and low strains. It is related to intense stress localisation at some grain contacts in the initially connected solid framework. A second intense and penetrative crystal breakage process is observed for T≤ 550°C and γr > 6.2x10-4 s- 1. The evolution of the size distribution as a function of finite strain and the reduced aspect ratios of preserved largest crystals in intensely strained zones support that breakage occurs by abrasion of the larger crystals. This abrasion can be attributed to the partial stress propagation over both the melt and partially isolated crystals under visco-elastic conditions. Mechanical data show a transition from slight shear softening at low strain rates and highest temperatures to strain hardening for experiments that produced penetrative crystal breakage. The crystal-melt suspension exhibits a shear thinning behaviour with a stress exponent larger than 2.06 over the explored strain rate and temperature domain for the experiments without intensive crystal breakage. Our results are applicable to the interpretation of the crystal breakage often observed at the base of lava flows, in domes, and near conduit walls. This experimental reproduction of a process observed in nature is important because the controls of stress-induced breakage we quantified are also key parameters governing magma transport.
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Mélanie Forien, Laurent Arbaret, Alain Burgisser, Rémi Champallier. Experimental constrains on shear-induced crystal breakage in magmas. Journal of Geophysical Research, American Geophysical Union, 2011, 116 (B08217), pp.1-21. ⟨10.1029/2010JB008026⟩. ⟨insu-00600382⟩

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