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Eclogitic breccias from Monviso (W. Alps) : structural, petrographic and geochemical evidence for multiple rupture stages at intermediate depths in subduction zones

Abstract : Intermediate-depth earthquakes (40-325 km depth) have been extensively documented within subducting oceanic slab but their triggering mechanisms remain enigmatic due to (I) the instrumental uncertainties on geophysical data acquisition and (II) the scarcity of examples of exhumed (and unambiguously recognized) eclogite-facies earthquake-derived rocks. Although still limited, there is growing evidence that large-scale, “fossil” exhumed portions of subducted lithosphere may record both chemical and mechanical processes operating in the depth range of intermediate-depth seismicity. This thesis project investigates the role of metamorphic fluids in the formation of the eclogitic breccias (resulting from potentially seismic deformation) found in a 15 km-long shear zone developed in an almost intact fragment of Tethyan oceanic lithosphere metamorphosed to eclogite-facies peak metamorphic conditions (2.6 GPa - 550 °C) during Alpine subduction: the Monviso metaophiolite complex (W. Alps). Three major shear zones cutting across the complex at low angle were studied, with a major focus on the Lower Shear Zone -LSZ-, where blocks of variably brecciated (and potentially seismically-derived) Fe-Ti and Mg-Al metagabbros are embedded, together with metasedimentary blocks, in a talc and tremolite-rich serpentinite matrix. Particular attention was paid to the petrological and structural characterization of 196 breccia blocks (in which more than 100 samples were collected), with (i) detailed analysis and mapping of their distribution in the LSZ and (ii) morphological characterization (block size, relative volume of matrix with respect to clasts and matrix-clast composition). These data have been synthesized in a new detailed geological map of Monviso meta-ophiolite at a scale of 1: 20,000. The mylonitic foliation of intact Mg-Al-rich metagabbros (composed of omphacite + rutile ± ex-lawsonite ± quartz and locally garnet) cut by breccia planes (cemented by omphacite + garnet ± ex-lawsonite) univocally indicates brecciation at eclogite facies conditions. In the breccias the occurrence of a first omphacite-rich matrix (M1) cut by a second matrix rich in garnet + lawsonite pseudomorphs (M2) witnesses multiple brittle rupture events (probably shortly spaced in time) prior to a stage of massive eclogite facies fluid ingression (matrix M3). Trace elements analysis (in-situ and bulk) coupled to rigorous microstructural characterization of samples suggest a progressive change of fluids circulating during the brecciation. First brittle event M1 was triggered by locally-buffered fluids (e.g., from metagabbros) with later ingression of “exotic” fluids (e.g., from serpentinites) triggering the brecciation events M2 and M3. Due to the limited extension of outcrops, the coseismic origin of the eclogitic breccia remains somehow speculative; nevertheless several evidences (e.g., minerals fractured and offset along omphacite-bearing planes) suggest that Monviso eclogite breccias were generated by instantaneous brittle rupture.
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Michele Locatelli. Eclogitic breccias from Monviso (W. Alps) : structural, petrographic and geochemical evidence for multiple rupture stages at intermediate depths in subduction zones. Earth Sciences. Université Pierre et Marie Curie - Paris VI; Università degli studi (Gênes, Italie), 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017PA066349⟩. ⟨tel-01875132⟩

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