Matrix deformation mechanisms in HP-LT tectonic mélanges — Microstructural record of jadeite blueschist from the Franciscan Complex, California
Exhumed high pressure-low temperature metamorphic mélanges of tectonic origin are believed to reflect high strain accumulated in large scale interplate shear zones during subduction. Rigid blocks of widely varying size are embedded in a weak matrix, which takes up the deformation and controls the rheology of the composite. The microfabrics of a highly deformed jadeite-blueschist from the Franciscan Complex, California, are investigated to help understand deformation mechanisms at depth. The specimen shows a transposed foliation with dismembered fold hinges and boudinage structures. Several generations of open fractures have been sealed to become veins at high-pressure metamorphic conditions. The shape of these veins, frequently restricted to specific layers, indicates distributed host rock deformation during and after sealing. Small cracks in jadeite and lawsonite are healed, with tiny quartz inclusions aligned along the former fracture surface. Large jadeite porphyroblasts show strain caps and strain shadows. Open fractures are sealed by quartz and new jadeite epitactically grown on the broken host. Monophase glaucophane aggregates consist of undeformed needles with a diameter between 0.1 and 2 μm, grown after formation of isoclinal folds. Only quartz microfabrics indicate some stage of crystal-plastic deformation, followed by annealing and grain growth. Aragonite in the latest vein generation shows retrogression to calcite along its rims. The entire deformation happened under HP-LT metamorphic conditions in the stability field of jadeite and quartz, at temperatures between 300 and 450 °C and pressures exceeding 1-1.4 GPa. The microfabrics indicate that dissolution precipitation creep was the predominant deformation mechanism, accompanied by brittle failure and vein formation at quasi-lithostatic pore fluid pressure. This indicates low flow strength and, combined with high strain rates expected for localized deformation between the plates, a very low viscosity of material in the interplate shear zone at a depth > 30-45 km.