Interpretation of fluid inclusions in quartz deformed by weak ductile shearing: reconstruction of differential stress magnitudes and pre-deformation fluid properties

Diamond, Larryn William; Tarantola, Alexandre (2015). Interpretation of fluid inclusions in quartz deformed by weak ductile shearing: reconstruction of differential stress magnitudes and pre-deformation fluid properties. Earth and planetary science letters, 417, pp. 107-119. Elsevier 10.1016/j.epsl.2015.02.019

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A well developed theoretical framework is available in which paleofluid properties, such as chemical composition and density, can be reconstructed from fluid inclusions in minerals that have undergone no ductile deformation. The present study extends this framework to encompass fluid inclusions hosted by quartz that has undergone weak ductile deformation following fluid entrapment. Recent experiments have shown that such deformation causes inclusions to become dismembered into clusters of irregularly shaped relict inclusions surrounded by planar arrays of tiny, new-formed (neonate) inclusions. Comparison of the experimental samples with a naturally sheared quartz vein from Grimsel Pass, Aar Massif, Central Alps, Switzerland, reveals striking similarities. This strong concordance justifies applying the experimentally derived rules of fluid inclusion behaviour to nature. Thus, planar arrays of dismembered inclusions defining cleavage planes in quartz may be taken as diagnostic of small amounts of intracrystalline strain. Deformed inclusions preserve their pre-deformation concentration ratios of gases to electrolytes, but their H2O contents typically have changed. Morphologically intact inclusions, in contrast, preserve the pre-deformation composition and density of their originally trapped fluid. The orientation of the maximum principal compressive stress (σ1σ1) at the time of shear deformation can be derived from the pole to the cleavage plane within which the dismembered inclusions are aligned. Finally, the density of neonate inclusions is commensurate with the pressure value of σ1σ1 at the temperature and time of deformation. This last rule offers a means to estimate magnitudes of shear stresses from fluid inclusion studies. Application of this new paleopiezometer approach to the Grimsel vein yields a differential stress (σ1–σ3σ1–σ3) of ∼300 MPa∼300 MPa at View the MathML source390±30°C during late Miocene NNW–SSE orogenic shortening and regional uplift of the Aar Massif. This differential stress resulted in strain-hardening of the quartz at very low total strain (<5%<5%) while nearby shear zones were accommodating significant displacements. Further implementation of these experimentally derived rules should provide new insight into processes of fluid–rock interaction in the ductile regime within the Earth's crust.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Diamond, Larryn William


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Larryn William Diamond

Date Deposited:

29 Jul 2015 16:19

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:48

Publisher DOI:





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