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Subduction interface processes recorded by eclogite-facies shear zones (Monviso, W. Alps)

Abstract : The Monviso ophiolite Lago Superiore Unit constitutes a well-preserved, almost continuous upper fragment of oceanic lithosphere subducted at c. 80 km depth, thereby providing a unique opportunity to study mechanical coupling processes and meter-scale fluid-rock interactions occurring at such depths in present-day subduction zones. It is made of (i) a variably thick (50-500 m) section of eclogitized basaltic crust (associated with minor calcschist lenses) overlying a 100-400 m thick metagabbroic body and of (ii) a c. 1 km thick serpentinite sole. We herein focus on the three major eclogite-facies shear zones found at the top of the unit, at the boundary between basalts and gabbros, and between gabbros and serpentinites, respectively. Strain localization occurred at lithological interfaces, irrespective of material strength. While ductile deformation dominates along the shear zones, local brittle behaviour is demonstrated by the existence of numerous eclogite breccias of Fe-Ti metagabbros and widespread garnet fractures, possibly linked with intermediate-depth eclogite-facies (micro)seismicity. These m- to hm-sized fragments of Fe-Ti metagabbros were later sheared and disseminated within serpentinite schists along the gabbro-serpentinite boundary (Lower Shear zone; LSZ). Pervasive and focused fluid flow is attested in the LSZ by significant alteration of bulk rock compositions, weakening of the rocks and widespread crystallization of hydrous parageneses. By contrast, the Intermediate Shear zone (ISZ) shows evidence for more restricted, short-range fluid flow. The activity of both the ISZ and LSZ ceased during early lawsonite eclogite-facies exhumation, when deformation localized deeper within the serpentinite sole, allowing for the detachment (and preservation) of this large ophiolitic fragment.
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Samuel Angiboust, Philippe Agard, Hugues Raimbourg, Philippe Yamato, Benjamin Huet. Subduction interface processes recorded by eclogite-facies shear zones (Monviso, W. Alps). Lithos, Elsevier, 2011, 127 (1-2), pp.222-238. ⟨10.1016/j.lithos.2011.09.004⟩. ⟨insu-00624611⟩

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