Sequential growth of deformation bands in carbonate grainstones in the hangingwall of an active growth fault: Implications for deformation mechanisms in different tectonic regimes
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Deformation bands in porous sandstones have been extensively studied for four decades, whereas comparatively less is known about deformation bands in porous carbonate rocks, particularly in extensional settings. Here, we investigate porous grainstones of the Globigerina Limestone Formation in Malta, which contain several types of deformation bands in the hangingwall of the Maghlaq Fault: (i) bed-parallel pure compaction bands (PCB); (ii) pressure solution-dominated compactive shear bands (SCSB) and iii) cataclasis-dominated compactive shear bands (CCSB). Geometric and kinematic analyses show that the bands formed sequentially in the hangingwall of the evolving Maghlaq growth fault. PCBs formed first due to fault-controlled subsidence and vertical loading; a (semi-)tectonic control on PCB formation is thus documented for the first time in an extensional setting. Pressure solution (dominating SCSBs) and cataclasis (dominating CCSBs) appear to have operated separately, and not in concert. Our findings therefore suggest that, in some carbonate rocks, cataclasis within deformation bands may develop irrespective of whether pressure solution processes are involved. We suggest this may be related to stress state, and that whereas pressure solution is a significant facilitator of grain size reduction in contractional settings, grain size reduction within deformation bands in extensional settings is less dependent on pressure solution processes.