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Isotopic evidence for the infiltration of mantle and metamorphic CO2-H2O fluids from below in faulted rocks from the San Andreas Fault system

Abstract : To characterize the origin of the fluids involved in the San Andreas Fault (SAF) system, we carried out an isotope study of exhumed faulted rocks from deformation zones, vein fillings and their hosts and the fluid inclusions associated with these materials. Samples were collected from segments along the SAF system selected to provide a depth profile from upper to lower crust. In all, 75 samples from various structures and lithologies from 13 localities were analyzed for noble gas, carbon, and oxygen isotope compositions. Fluid inclusions exhibit helium isotope ratios (3He/4He) of 0.1-2.5 times the ratio in air, indicating that past fluids percolating through the SAF system contained mantle helium contributions of at least 35%, similar to what has been measured in present-day ground waters associated with the fault (Kennedy et al., 1997). Calcite is the predominant vein mineral and is a common accessory mineral in deformation zones. A systematic variation of C- and O-isotope compositions of carbonates from veins, deformation zones and their hosts suggests percolation by external fluids of similar compositions and origin with the amount of fluid infiltration increasing from host rocks to vein to deformation zones. The isotopic trend observed for carbonates in veins and deformation zones follows that shown by carbonates in host limestones, marbles, and other host rocks, increasing with increasing contribution of deep metamorphic crustal volatiles. At each crustal level, the composition of the infiltrating fluids is thus buffered by deeper metamorphic sources. A negative correlation between calcite δ13C and fluid inclusion 3He/4He is consistent with a mantle origin for a fraction of the infiltrating CO2. Noble gas and stable isotope systematics show consistent evidence for the involvement of mantle-derived fluids combined with infiltration of deep metamorphic H2O and CO2 in faulting, supporting the involvement of deep fluids percolating through and perhaps weakening the fault zone. There is no clear evidence for a significant contribution from meteoric water, except for overprinting related to late weathering.
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Eric Pili, B.M. Kennedy, M.E. Conrad, Jean-Pierre Gratier. Isotopic evidence for the infiltration of mantle and metamorphic CO2-H2O fluids from below in faulted rocks from the San Andreas Fault system. Chemical Geology, Elsevier, 2011, 281 (3-4), pp.242-252. ⟨10.1016/j.chemgeo.2010.12.011⟩. ⟨insu-00681377⟩

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