Outcrop mapping and fault-rock characterization of the Stillwater normal fault zone in Dixie Valley, Nevada are used to document and interpret ancient hydrothermal fluid flow and its possible relationship to seismic deformation. The fault zone is composed of distinct structural and hydrogeological components. Previous work on the fault rocks is extended to the map scale where a distinctive fault core shows a spectrum of different fault-related breccias. These include predominantly clast-supported breccias with angular clasts that are cut by zones containing breccias with rounded clasts that are also clast supported. These are further cut by breccias that are predominantly matrix supported with angular and rounded clasts. The fault-core breccias are surrounded by a heterogeneously fractured damage zone. Breccias are bounded between major, silicified slip surfaces, forming large pod-like structures, systematically oriented with long axes parallel to slip. Matrix-supported breccias have multiply brecciated, angular and rounded clasts revealing episodic deformation and fluid flow. These breccias have a quartz-rich matrix with microcrystalline anhedral, equant, and pervasively conformable mosaic texture. The breccia pods are interpreted to have formed by decompression boiling and rapid precipitation of hydrothermal fluids whose flow was induced by coseismic, hybrid dilatant-shear deformation and hydraulic connection to a geothermal reservoir. The addition of hydrothermal silica cement localized in the core at the map scale causes fault-zone widening, local sealing, and mechanical heterogeneities that impact the evolution of the fault zone throughout the seismic cycle.
Journal of Structural Geology – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2010
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