Articles | Volume 9, issue 3
Research article
09 May 2018
Research article |  | 09 May 2018

Pseudotachylyte as field evidence for lower-crustal earthquakes during the intracontinental Petermann Orogeny (Musgrave Block, Central Australia)

Friedrich Hawemann, Neil S. Mancktelow, Sebastian Wex, Alfredo Camacho, and Giorgio Pennacchioni

Abstract. Geophysical evidence for lower continental crustal earthquakes in almost all collisional orogens is in conflict with the widely accepted notion that rocks, under high grade conditions, should flow rather than fracture. Pseudotachylytes are remnants of frictional melts generated during seismic slip and can therefore be used as an indicator of former seismogenic fault zones. The Fregon Subdomain in Central Australia was deformed under dry sub-eclogitic conditions of 600–700 °C and 1.0–1.2 GPa during the intracontinental Petermann Orogeny (ca. 550 Ma) and contains abundant pseudotachylyte. These pseudotachylytes are commonly foliated, recrystallized, and cross-cut by other pseudotachylytes, reflecting repeated generation during ongoing ductile deformation. This interplay is interpreted as evidence for repeated seismic brittle failure and post- to inter-seismic creep under dry lower-crustal conditions. Thermodynamic modelling of the pseudotachylyte bulk composition gives the same PT conditions of shearing as in surrounding mylonites. We conclude that pseudotachylytes in the Fregon Subdomain are a direct analogue of current seismicity in dry lower continental crust.