Microtextural constraints on the interplay between fluidrock reactions and deformation

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Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology





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Schists from two mylonitic localities in the footwall of a low-angle normal fault in the eastern Alps record different degrees of embrittlement during exhumation, depending on the extent to which fluid–rock reactions proceeded. At one site, graphitic schists preserve textural evidence for two metamorphic reactions that modified XCO2XCO2 and/or fluid volume: (1) reaction between graphite and aqueous fluid that increased XCO2XCO2 without changing the molar amount of fluid, and (2) replacement of titanite by rutile, calcite, and quartz. The latter reaction involved net consumption of increasingly CO2-rich fluid. Areas where the first reaction proceeded are associated with abundant Mode I microcracks. Fluid inclusion arrays within the microcracks show that XCO2XCO2 increased from ∼0.1 to 0.6 during decompression from 4.75 to 2 kbar at a reference temperature of 500°C. Titanite consumption is most pronounced within transgranular Mode I microcracks, but microcracks do not crosscut products of this reaction; fluid consumption during reaction was coeval with the end of microcracking, at least on a local scale. At the other site, graphitic schists lack small-scale Mode I cracks as well as evidence for graphite consumption during decompression. SEM imaging shows that graphite is anhedral and pitted at the first site, but occurs in clusters of euhedral grains at the second site. Mass balance calculations demonstrate that rocks with partially consumed graphite were infiltrated by an externally derived, H2O-rich fluid that drove subsequent graphite-fluid reaction. Evidence for similar fluid infiltration is absent at the second site. Variations in the degree of reaction progress indicate that fluid pathways and deformation style were heterogeneous on the scale of millimeters to kilometers during exhumation from mid-crustal depths.

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