Articles | Volume 12, issue 4
Research article
23 Apr 2021
Research article |  | 23 Apr 2021

Nanoscale earthquake records preserved in plagioclase microfractures from the lower continental crust

Arianne J. Petley-Ragan, Oliver Plümper, Benoit Ildefonse, and Bjørn Jamtveit

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Subject area: Tectonic plate interactions, magma genesis, and lithosphere deformation at all scales | Editorial team: Geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, and volcanology | Discipline: Petrography
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Cited articles

Aupart, C., Dunkel, K. G., Angheluta, L., Austrheim, H., Ildefonse, B., MaltheSørenssen, A., and Jamtveit, B.: Olivine grain size distributions in faults and shear zones: Evidence for nonsteady state deformation, J. Geophys. Res.-Sol. Ea., 123, 7421–7443,, 2018. 
Austrheim, H. and Boundy, T. M.: Pseudotachylytes generated during seismic faulting and eclogitization of the deep crust, in: Science, 82–83, (last access: 9 April 2021),, 1994. 
Austrheim, H., Dunkel, K. G., Plümper, O., Ildefonse, B., Liu, Y., and Jamtveit, B.: Fragmentation of wall rock garnets during deep crustal earthquakes, Sci. Adv., 3, e1602067,, 2017. 
Bachmann, F., Hielscher, R., and Schaeben, H.: Texture analysis with MTEX – free and open source software toolbox, Solid State Phenom., 160, 63–68,, 2010. 
Bestmann, M., Pennacchioni, G., Nielsen, S., Göken, M., and de Wall, H.: Deformation and ultrafine dynamic recrystallization of quartz in pseudotachylyte-bearing brittle faults: A matter of a few seconds, J. Struct. Geol., 38, 21–38,, 2012. 
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Earthquakes cause rapid deformation that has long-term effects on the Earth's crust. We studied the most abundant mineral, feldspar, in the vicinity of an earthquake to unravel its deformation history. With microscopy, we found internal nm-scale structures that indicate a history of high stress and destruction of atomic structure. This was quickly followed by high temperature and fluid introduction within seconds. Our findings illustrate the intense conditions imposed on rocks by earthquakes.