Shear zone folds: records of flow perturbation or structural inheritance?

Geoffrey Ian Alsop, RE Holdsworth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

56 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Deformation within shear zones can be both temporally and spatially variable, resulting in multiple generations of folds which display a range of scales and overprinting relationships in mylonitic rocks associated with high strain zones. Despite such complexities, two main fold associations are broadly recognized in many shear zone settings: early tight to isoclinal sheath folds, often with mylonitic limbs that are post-dated by one or more local generations of synshearing folds which are preserved within, or root downwards into mylonitic high strain zones. These latter structures locally fold the mylonitic foliation and lineation whilst displaying geometric characteristics that are kinematically compatible with the movement regime of the major shear zone. Using examples related to ductile thrusting in Moine metasediments of north Scotland, we show that both types of fold display predictable geometric patterns on fabric topology plots. Fold axes and axial surfaces display consistent changes in asymmetry and sense of obliquity relative to local, transport-parallel mineral lineations that can be used to map out a series of culminations and depression zones. The sheath folds preserve more acute, but almost identical geometric patterns compared to the later synshearing folds, with culmination and depression zones often coinciding in location and scale. Detailed analysis also demonstrates that the distribution of finite strain is systematically linked to the architecture of all folds and that clear and predictable relationships exist between the fabric topologies of both the sheath folds and synshearing folds. These consistent topological relationships could be explained in terms of a fold evolution model, where sheath folds represent a more highly deformed and evolved variety of synshearing folds originally generated during perturbations in ductile flow. However, an alternative fold inheritance model predicts that the gross structural architecture generated during sheath folding may subsequently control the geometry and govern the orientation of the synshearing folds. Both models may be widely applicable in a broad range of shear zorie environments.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlow Processes in Faults and Shear Zones Special Publications, vol 224
EditorsGI Alsop, RE Holdsworth, KJW Mccaffrey, M Hand
PublisherGeological Society of London
Pages177-199
ISBN (Print)186239153X
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Keywords

  • PROGRESSIVE DEFORMATION
  • MOINE NAPPE
  • NORTHERN SCOTLAND
  • NONCOAXIAL SHEAR
  • CALEDONIAN FOLD
  • AXES OBLIQUE
  • THRUST ZONE
  • X-DIRECTION
  • COMPLEX
  • STRAIN

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