Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Interaction of cataclasis and pressure solution in a low-temperature carbonate shear zone


The mineralogical and elemental variations across the main shear zone of the Saltville thrust at Sharp Gap in Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A., were studied in a suite of deformed and undefromed carbonate rock samples using X-ray diffraction and electron microprobe methods. An examination of the samples for deformation effects at mesoscopic scale and under the optical microscope reveals familiar cataclastic deformation features including foliated cataclasites and microbreccias occurring in a well-defined, 1–2 m wide zone of intense deformation, plus evidence of hydrofracturing and extensive syndeformational pressure solution. There exists a clear correlation between the observed cataclastic deformation and mineral and elemental distribution which we interpret to result from a deformation-induced dolomite to calcite transformation in the shear zone. The transformation has resulted in removal of Mg from the shear zone, selective deposition of calcite as an intergranular cement in cataclasite/microbreccia units and a relative increase in the concentration of detrital quartz and feldspars.

The compositional difference between the shear zone and wall rocks is explained in connection with cataclastic deformation features in terms of a model in which a dual pressure-solution/cataclastic flow mechanism leads to a gradual cementation-hardening of segments of the shear zone. Instabilities could occur via permeability reduction and increased pore pressure within these segments. Hydrofracturing of the hardened segments along with high strain rate reordering of the shear zone materials reset the ruptured zone back to the dual deformation mechanism regime. As a long-term effect, the compositional transformation of the shear zone is expected to prolong periods of creep and cause smaller coseismic stress drops since under the imposed conditions calcite is more ductile and soluble than dolomite.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Alvarez, W., Engelder, T., andLowrie, W. (1976),Formation of Spaced Cleavage and Folds in Brittle Limestone by Dissolution, Geology4, 698–701.

  2. Alvarez, W., Engelder, T., andGeiser, P. (1978),Classification of Solution Cleavage in Pelagic Limestone, Geology6, 263–266.

  3. Beach, A. (1979),Pressure Solution as a Metamorphic Process in Deformed Terrigenous Sedimentary Rocks, Lithos12, 51–58.

  4. Blanpied, M. L., Lockner, D. A., andByerlee, J. D. (1992),An Earthquake Mechanism Based on Rapid Sealing of Faults, Nature358, 574–576.

  5. Byerly, D. W., Walker, K. R., Diehl, W. W., Ghazizadeh, M., Johnson, R. E., Lutz, C. T., Schoner, A. K., Simmons, W. A., Simonson, J. C. B., Weber, L. J., andWedekind, J. E. (1986,Thorn Hill: A classic Paleozoic stratigraphic section in Tennessee. InGeol. Soc. Amer. Field Guides-Southeastern Section Volume, pp. 131–136.

  6. Carmichael, R. S.,Handbook of Physical Properties of Rocks, Volume III (CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida 1984).

  7. Carroll, D. (1970),Clay Minerals: A Guide to their X-ray Identification, Geol. Soc. Am. Special Paper126, 80 pp.

  8. Chester, F. M., Evans, J. P., andBiegel, R. L. (1993),Internal Structure and Weakening Mechanisms of the San Andreas Fault, J.G.R.98, 771–786.

  9. Chester, F. M., andHiggs, N. G. (1992),Multimechanism Friction Constitutive Model for Ultrafine Quartz Gouge at Hypocentral Conditions, J.G.R.97, 1859–1870.

  10. Choudari Kaminemi, D., Thivierge, R. H., andStone, D. (1988),Development of a Cataclastic Fault Zone in an Archean Granitic Pluton of the Superior Province: Structural, Geochemical and Geophysical Characteristics, Am. J. Sci.288, 458–494.

  11. Chowns, T. M. (1989),Stratigraphy of major thrust sheets in the Valley and Ridge province of Georgia. InExcursions in Georgia Geology (ed. Fritz, W. J.) Guidebook 9, pp. 211–238.

  12. Churnet, H. G., Misra, K. C., andWalker, K. R. (1982),Deposition and Dolomitization of Upper Knox Carbonate Sediments, Copper Ridge, East Tennessee, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.93, 76–96.

  13. DeBoer, R. B. (1977a),On the Thermodynamics of Pressure Solution. Interaction between Chemical and Mechanical Forces, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta41, 249–256.

  14. DeBoer, R. B. (1977b),Pressure Solution Experiments on Quartz Sand, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta41, 257–264.

  15. DePaor, D. G., Simpson, C., Baily, C. M., McCaffery, K. J. W., Bean, E., Gower, R. J. W., andAziz, G. (1991),The Role of Solution in the Formation of Boundinage and Transverse Veins in Carbonate Rocks at Rheems, Pennsylvania, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.103, 1552–1563.

  16. Durney, D. W. (1972),Solution Transfer, an Important Geological Deformation Mechanism, Nature235, 315–317.

  17. Elias, B. P., andHajash, A. Jr. (1992),Changes in Quartz Solubility and Porosity due to Effective Stress: An Experimental Investigation of Pressure Solution, Geology20, 451–454.

  18. Etheridge, M. A., Wall, V. J., andCox, S. F. (1984),High Fluid Pressure during Regional Metamorphism and Deformation: Implications for Mass Transport and Deformation Mechanisms, J.G.R.89, 4344–4358.

  19. Freeze, R. A., andCherry, J. A.,Groundwater (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey 1979).

  20. Groshong, R. H. (1975),Strain, Fractures and Pressure Solution in Natural Single-layer Folds, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.86, 1363–1376.

  21. Groshong, R. H. (1988),Low-temperature Deformation Mechanisms and their Interpretation, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.100, 1329–1360.

  22. Hadizadeh, J., andRutter, E. H.,Experimental study of cataclastic deformation of a quartzite. InIssues in Rock Mechanics (eds. Goodman, R. E., and Heuze, F. E.) (23rd Symp. Rock Mech. 1982), pp. 372–379.

  23. Hadizadeh, J., andBabei, A. (1992).A Model for the Interaction of Pressure Solution and Cataclasis in a Brittle Shear Zone; Saltville Thrust at Sharp Gap, Knoxville, Tennessee, Geol. Soc. Am. Annual Meeting Abstracts with Programs24, A183.

  24. Harris, L. D. (1971),Lower Paleozoic Paleoaquifer. The Kingsport Formation and Mascot Dolomite of Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, Econ. Geol.66, 735–743.

  25. Hatcher, R. D., Jr. (1986),Saltville fault at Sharp Gap, Knoxville, Tennessee. InThe Geological Society of America Centennial Field Guides, Southeastern Section Volume, pp. 137–138.

  26. Hatcher, R. D., Jr. (1987),Tectonics of the Southern and Central Appalachian Internides, Annual Rev. Earth and Plan. Sci.15, 337–362.

  27. Heard, H. C. (1963),Effects of Large Changes in Strain Rate in Experimental Deformation of Yule Marble, J. Geol.71, 162–195.

  28. Heard, H. C., andRaleigh, C. B. (1972),Steady-state Flow in Marble at 500°C to 800°C, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.83, 935–956.

  29. Hirth, G., andTullis, J. (1989),The Effects of Pressure and Porosity on the Micromechanics of the Brittle-ductile Transition in Quartzite, J. G. R.94, 17825–17838.

  30. Hobbs, B. E., Ord, A., andTeyssier, C. (1986),Earthquakes in the Ductile Regime?, Pure and Appl. Geophys.124, 309–336.

  31. House, W. M., andGray, D. R. (1982),Cataclasites along the Saltville Thrust, U. S. A. and their Implications for Thrust Sheet Emplacement, J. Struct. Geol.4, 257–269.

  32. Hugman, R. H., andFriedman, M. (1979),Effects of Texture and Composition on Mechanical Behavior of Experimentally Deformed Carbonate Rocks, Am. Assoc. Petrol. Geol. Bull.63, 1478–1489.

  33. Janecke, S. U., andEvans, J. P. (1988),Feldspar-influenced Rock Rheologies, Geology16, 1064–1067.

  34. Katz, A. (1973),The Interaction of Magnesium with Calcite during Crystal Growth at 25–90°C and one Atmosphere, Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta37, 1563–1586.

  35. Logan, J. M., Friedman, M., Higgs, N. G., Dengo, C., andShimamoto, T. (1979),Experimental studies of simulated gouge and their application to studies of natural fault gouge. In USGS Open File Report (79-1239),Analysis of Actual Fault Zones in Bedrock, pp. 305–343.

  36. Logan, J. M., andRauenzahn, K. A. (1987),Frictional Dependence of Gouge Mixtures of Quartz and Montmorillonite on Velocity, Composition and Fabric, Tectonophys.144, 87–108.

  37. Moore, D. M., andReynolds, R. C.,X-Ray Diffraction and the Identification and Analysis of Clay Minerals (Oxford University Press 1989).

  38. Paul, J. B. (1986),Geometry and Facies of the Saltville Fault in Knoxville, Tennessee, M.S. Thesis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN.

  39. Power, W. L., andTullis, T. E. (1989),The Relationship between Slickenside Surfaces in Fine-grained Quartz and the Seismic Cycle, J. Struct. Geol.11, 879–893.

  40. Power, W. L., andTullis, T. E. (1992),The contact between Opposing Fault Surfaces at Dixie Valley, Nevada and Implications for Fault Mechanics, J. G. R.97, 15425–15436.

  41. Ragland, P. C.,Basic Analytical Petrology (Oxford University Press, New York 1989).

  42. Rodgers, J.,The Tectonics of the Appalachians (Wiley & Sons, New York 1970).

  43. Rutter, E. H. (1972),The Effect of Strain Rate Changes on the Strength and Ductility of Solenhofen Limestone at Low Temperature and Confining Pressure, Int. J. Rock Mech.9, 183–189.

  44. Rutter, E. H. (1976),The Kinetics of Rock Deformation by Pressure Solution, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. London A238, 203–219.

  45. Rutter, E. H. (1983),Pressure Solution in Nature, Theory and Experiment, J. Geol. Soc. London140, 725–740.

  46. Rutter, E. H., andHadizadeh, J. (1991),On the Influence of Porosity on the Low-temperature Brittle-ductile Transition in Siliciclastic Rocks, J. Struct. Geol.13, 609–614.

  47. Scholz, C. H. (1988),The Brittle-plastic Transition and the Depth of Seismic Faulting, Geol. Rdsch.77, 319–328.

  48. Scholz, C. H. (1992),Weakness amid Strength, Nature359, 677–678.

  49. Shimamoto, T. (1989),The Origin of S-C Mylonites and a New Fault-zone Model, J. Struct. Geol.11, 51–64.

  50. Sibson, R. H. (1977),Fault Rocks and Fault Mechanisms, J. Geol. Soc. London133, 191–213.

  51. Sibson, R. H. (1980),Power Dissipation and Stress Levels on Faults in the Upper Crust, J. G. R.85, 6239–6247.

  52. Sibson, R. H. (1981),Fluid flow accompanying faulting: Field evidence and models. InEarthquake Prediction, An International Review, AGU Maurice Ewing Series 4, pp. 593–604.

  53. Sibson, R. H. (1983),Continental Fault Structure and the Shallow Earthquake Source, J. Geol. Soc. London140, 741–767.

  54. Sleep, N. H., andBlanpied, M. L. (1992),Creep, Compaction and the Weak Rheology of Major Faults, Nature359, 687–692.

  55. Weyl, P. K. (1959),Pressure Solution and the Force of Crystallization. A Phenomenological Theory, J.G.R.64, 2001–2025.

  56. Wheeler, J. (1992).The Importance of Pressure Solution and Coble Creep in the Deformation of Polymineralic Rocks, J.G.R.97, 4579–4586.

  57. Wojtal, S., andMitra, G. (1986),Strain Hardening and Strain Softening in Fault Zones from Foreland Thrusts, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.97, 674–687.

  58. Woodward, N. B.,Valley and Ridge thrust belt: Balanced structural sections, Pennsylvania to Alabama. InStudies in Geology 12 (University of Tennessee Department of Geological Sciences 1985), 64 pp.

  59. Woodward, N. B., Wojtal, S., Paul, J. B., andZadins, Z. Z. (1988a),Partitioning of Deformation within Several External Thrust Zones of the Appalachian Orogen, J. Geology96, 351–361.

  60. Woodward, N. B., Walker, K. R., andLutz, C. T. (1988b),Relationahip between Early Paleozoic Patterns and Structural Trends in the Saltville Thrust Family, Tennessee Valley and Ridge, Southern Appalachians, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.100, 1758–1769.

  61. Wu, S., andGroshong, R. H. (1991),Low-temperature Deformation of Sandstone, Southern Appalachian Fold-thrust belt, Geol. Soc. Am. Bull.103, 861–875.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hadizadeh, J. Interaction of cataclasis and pressure solution in a low-temperature carbonate shear zone. PAGEOPH 143, 255–280 (1994).

Download citation

Key words

  • Cataclasis
  • pressure solution
  • geochemistry of brittle shear zones