Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Geology

Volume

48

Issue

5

Publisher

The Geological Society of America

Publication Date

3-18-2020

Award Number

NSF, Division of Earth Sciences (EAR) 1654628

Funder

NSF, Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)

First Page

514

Last Page

518

Abstract

Evidence for coseismic temperature rise that induces dynamic weakening is challenging to directly observe and quantify in natural and experimental fault rocks. Hematite (U-Th)/He (hematite He) thermochronometry may serve as a fault-slip thermometer, sensitive to transient high temperatures associated with earthquakes. We test this hypothesis with hematite deformation experiments at seismic slip rates, using a rotary-shear geometry with an annular ring of silicon carbide (SiC) sliding against a specular hematite slab. Hematite is characterized before and after sliding via textural and hematite He analyses to quantify He loss over variable experimental conditions. Experiments yield slip surfaces localized in an ∼5–30-µm-thick layer of hematite gouge with71% ± 1% (1σ) and 18% ± 3% He loss, respectively. Documented He loss requires short-duration, high temperatures during slip. The spatial heterogeneity and enhanced He loss from FM zones are consistent with asperity flash heating (AFH). Asperities >200–300 µm in diameter, producing temperatures >900 °C for ∼1 ms, can explain observed He loss. Results provide new empirical evidence describing AFH and the role of coseismic temperature rise in FM formation. Hematite He thermochronometry can detect AFH and thus seismicity on natural FMs and other thin slip surfaces in the upper seismogenic zone of Earth’s crust.

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