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Lower-crustal earthquakes in southern Tibet are linked to eclogitization of dry metastable granulite.

ABSTRACT: Southern Tibet is the most active orogenic region on Earth where the Indian Plate thrusts under Eurasia, pushing the seismic discontinuity between the crust and the mantle to an unusual depth of ~80?km. Numerous earthquakes occur in the lower portion of this thickened continental crust, but the triggering mechanisms remain enigmatic. Here we show that dry granulite rocks, the dominant constituent of the subducted Indian crust, become brittle when deformed under conditions corresponding to the eclogite stability field. Microfractures propagate dynamically, producing acoustic emission, a laboratory analog of earthquakes, leading to macroscopic faults. Failed specimens are characterized by weak reaction bands consisting of nanometric products of the metamorphic reaction. Assisted by brittle intra-granular ruptures, the reaction bands develop into shear bands which self-organize to form macroscopic Riedel-like fault zones. These results provide a viable mechanism for deep seismicity with additional constraints on orogenic processes in Tibet.


PROVIDER: S-EPMC6113232 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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