Articles written in Journal of Earth System Science

    • Roundness of survivor clasts as a discriminator for melting and crushing origin of fault rocks: A reappraisal

      Arindam Sarkar Anupam Chattopadhyay Tusharika Singh

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      Roundness of survivor clasts (mineral/rock fragments) in fault rocks (e.g., pseudotachylyte and cataclasite/gouge) has been used by some workers to distinguish melt-origin from crush-origin of such rocks. Keeping in view the large overlap in the published data on the roundness of fault rocks, the reliability of such a discriminator appears somewhat uncertain. The present study attempts to reappraise the aforesaid criterion through roundness analysis of quartz and feldspar clasts in melting-dominated pseudotachylyte (M-Pt), crushing-dominated pseudotachylyte (C-Pt) and fault-related cataclasite (F-Ct) collected from Sarwar–Junia Fault Zone in Rajasthan and from Gavilgarh–Tan Shear Zone in central India. Our analysis shows that roundness of clasts cannot reliably distinguish between fault rocks of melt-origin and crush-origin (especially M-Pt and F-Ct) as the roundness values overlap and a distinct limit of roundness value for each rock type cannot be established. While the roundness of clasts in M-Pt and C-Pt may be enhanced due to melt-induced rounding off of the initially angular clasts, rounding of clasts can also occur by abrasion during rolling of crushed material in F-Ct. Furthermore, anomalous thermal expansion of clasts in melt-origin pseudotachylyte may cause disintegration of larger clasts into smaller angular fragments, thereby increasing the percentage of angular clasts in melt-origin fault rocks. Therefore, roundness of survivor clasts cannot be solely used as a discriminator between melt-origin and crush-origin fault rocks.

    • Size distribution of survivor clasts in pseudotachylyte and cataclasite: Implications for crushing and melting processes in seismic fault zones


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      Quartz/feldspar fragment (‘clast’) sizes were measured in thin sections of three types of fault zone rocks, e.g., melting-dominated pseudotachylyte (M-Pt), crushing-dominated pseudotachylyte (C-Pt) and cataclasite (Ct), from two well-studied Precambrian shear/fault zones in the Indian craton (e.g., the Gavilgarh–Tan Shear zone in central India and the Sarwar–Junia Fault zone in western India). Logarithmic plots of clast area vs. cumulative frequency in the pseudotachylytes demonstrate a fractal clast-size distribution (c.s.d.) for the intermediate size range, whereas the finer and coarser clast size fractions clearly deviate from the fractal trend. Under-representation of the finer size clasts in the pseudotachylyte samples may be attributed to their preferential melting and removal from the clast population. The relative paucity of coarse clasts, on the other hand, is possibly due to a sampling bias against coarse clasts. The c.s.d of the cataclastic rock shows a multi-fractal character with two different slopes (i.e., lower D-value for finer clast sizes) and absence of the left-hand (finer size) fall off. This suggests less efficient crushing in the finer clast size fraction. The proportion of clasts, compared to the matrix, is very small in M-Pt, increases in C-Pt and is highest in Ct, suggesting that melting of rock/mineral fragments is a dominant process in forming M-Pt, whereas it is less significant in C-Pt, and is absent in Ct, which corroborates the microscopic observations.


      $\bullet$ Clast size and cumulative frequency were measured in pseudotachylyte and cataclasite samples from two shear zones.

      $\bullet$ Size-frequency relationship follows a power law in melting- and crushing-dominated pseudotachylytes.

      $\bullet$ The power law does not hold good for the finest and coarsest size ranges in both types of pseudotachylytes.

      $\bullet$ For cataclasite, a multi-fractal power law relationship exists between the size and cumulative frequency of clasts.

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