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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-137
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/se-2020-137
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  19 Aug 2020

19 Aug 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SE.

Experimental evidence that viscous shear zones generate periodic pore sheets that focus mass transport

James Gilgannon1, Marius Waldvogel1, Thomas Poulet2, Florian Fusseis3, Alfons Berger1, Auke Barnhoorn4, and Marco Herwegh1 James Gilgannon et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
  • 2CSIRO Mineral Resources, Kensington, WA 6151, Australia
  • 3School of Geosciences, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JW, UK
  • 4Department of Geoscience and Engineering, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract. In experiments designed to understand deep shear zones, we show that periodic porous sheets emerge spontaneously during viscous creep, forming a hydro-mechanical anisotropy that influences mass transfer. These findings challenge the current paradigm of viscosity in solid rocks. In particular, they showcase how shear zones may actively focus mass transport and highlight the possibility that viscous rocks could locally transition from flow to fracture. Our work demonstrates that viscosity in solids is not directly comparable to viscosity in fluids and this is consequential for a range of important solid Earth topics, like slow earthquakes, the flow of glacial ice and the tectonics of exoplanets.

James Gilgannon et al.

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James Gilgannon et al.

James Gilgannon et al.

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Latest update: 30 Nov 2020
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Short summary
Using experiments that simulate deep tectonic interfaces, known as viscous shear zones, we found that these zones spontaneously develop periodic sheets of small pores. The presence of porous layers in deep rocks undergoing tectonic deformation is significant because requires a change to the current model of how the Earth deforms. Emergent porous layers in viscous rocks will focus mineralising fluids and could lead to the seismic failure of rocks that are supposed to never have this occur.
Using experiments that simulate deep tectonic interfaces, known as viscous shear zones, we found...
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