Exciting news! We're transitioning to the Statewide California Earthquake Center. Our new website is under construction, but we'll continue using this website for SCEC business in the meantime. We're also archiving the Southern Center site to preserve its rich history. A new and improved platform is coming soon!

Evidence of hydrothermal brine circulation driving elemental mass redistribution in an active fault zone

Matthew T. Dorsey, Thomas K. Rockwell, Gary G. Girty, Giles A. Ostermeijer, John Browning, Thomas M. Mitchell, & John M. Fletcher

Accepted March 8, 2020, SCEC Contribution #10037

Important fault zone processes can be discerned from the characterization of fracture damage and chemical transformations associated with active seismic sources. To characterize the 2010 M7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah rupture, continuous samples of fault core and 23 samples of damaged rock were collected perpendicular to strike of the Borrego fault. Samples were analyzed for clay mineralogy, bulk geochemistry, and bulk and grain density from which porosities and volumetric strains were derived. Prior to the Borrego fault forming, the tonalitic protolith, containing chlorite, epidote, and titanite, was subjected to temperatures of ~330-340°C during deuteric alteration. Rocks within the damage zone (DZ) are partially pulverized and contain abundant cataclastic seams. Porosity and volumetric strain peak in zones 1.5 m to 10.5 m from the core. Within these zones, losses in Ca and P mass, increases in Mg and Na mass, along with the conservation of Fe and Si mass are consistent with oxidizing acidic conditions at < 200 °C. Gains in LOI are attributed to increases in clay. The above data support a model of Mg- and Na-rich oxidizing brine circulation within the DZ of the Borrego fault.

Dorsey, M. T., Rockwell, T. K., Girty, G. G., Ostermeijer, G. A., Browning, J., Mitchell, T. M., & Fletcher, J. M. (2020). Evidence of hydrothermal brine circulation driving elemental mass redistribution in an active fault zone. J. Structural Geology, (accepted).

Related Projects & Working Groups
Fault and Rupture Mechanics (FARM), Earthquake Geology