Calcite twinning strains from syn-faulting calcite gouge: small-offset strike-slip, normal and thrust faults

  • John P. CraddockEmail author
  • David H. Malone
  • Jakob Wartman
  • Megan J. Kelly
  • Liu Junlai
  • Maura Bussolotto
  • Chiara Invernizzi
  • Jeff Knott
  • Ryan Porter
Original Paper


We have evaluated the stress–strain behavior of calcite precipitated and mechanically twinned in small-offset strike-slip, normal and thrust faults of a variety of ages and from a variety of tectonic settings (n = 3001 twin measurements, 63 strain analyses from 18 field sites). Five strike-slip faults with syn-faulting, horizontally striated calcite (rake = 0°) were studied and we report the orientations of the contemporaneous stress–strain field associated with each fault: intrusion of the Marathon Large Igneous Province mafic dikes (~ 2.1 Ga in Archean crust, Minnesota, USA); post-Keweenaw rift (1.1 Ga) faulting (Island Lake fault, central Ontario, Canada); subduction associated with metamorphic core complex formation (Cretaceous, China); subduction (Cretaceous to Miocene, Italy), and continental extension (recently active Furnace Creek fault, Death Valley, California, USA). Seven normal faults with synfaulting, dip-slip striated calcite were studied and are from the following tectonic settings: a normal fault slip surface in an Ordovician Piedmont fold, Appalachian’s; paleo-subduction associated with Cretaceous metamorphic core complex formation (China, 3 sites); the paleo-extensional Atlantic margin (~ 55 Ma, Ireland, 1 site with a U–Pb calcite age); continental extension (1 active site, Mojave desert); a transcurrent margin (Jamaica, 1 active fault site), and subduction [2 active faults along the Eur-African margin in Italy (with calcite U–Th disequilibria ages) and Crete, respectively]. Six thrust fault examples are all from convergent orogenic settings: the basal thrust of the Penokean (1850 Ma) fold-and-thrust belt; the Penokean orogen foreland in Mesabi Range banded iron formation folds; an offset breccia body in the Permian Gondwanide belt, Ellsworth Mountains, Antarctica; the frontal thrust of the Gondwanide Cape belt, South Africa; the Paleocene frontal Prospect thrust, Sevier belt, Wyoming, and an Alpine foreland back-thrust, Lulworth Cove, U.K. For each strike-slip fault system the twinning shortening strain is horizontal and at an angle of 0°–60° to the respective fault plane (dextral or sinistral) although in the majority of cases the shortening axis is parallel to fault strike (13 of 23 results). In each normal fault example, dip-slip kinematic striations dominate the faulted surface yet the orientation of the maximum principal compressive stress (σ1) and shortening strain axis (ε1) are not 45° to the fault plane as predicted but are sub-horizontal and either strike-parallel (25 of 35 results) or strike-normal (10 of 35 results). Thrust faults preserve shortening strain axes parallel to the dip-slip kinematic direction, within the fault plane (plane strain) and not at 45° to the principal plane (5 of 5 results). None of the fault stress–strain field results reported here support the Andersonian or Mohr–Coulomb criteria for stress–strain relations predicted along faults.


Fault mechanics Calcite strain analysis 



Alessandro Montanari, of the Coldigioco Geological Observatory, provided accommodations and insights into the local Gubbio, Italy geology. Pietro Paolo Pierantoni aided in the creation of the Gubbio valley DEM image. Fieldwork was funded by Macalester College’s Wallace program and Wartman was funded by a summer Beltmann award. Various people helped with fieldwork over the years: Andrew Moshoian (KK dikes), Mara Brady and Thomas Klein (Crete), Kim Neilson and Melissa Pawlisch (Iceland), Cara Craddock (N. Ireland and the U.K.), Kim Neilson and Jenn Anziano (Wyoming), Dan Hornbach and Mark Davis (Jamaica), Andrew Moshoian, Michelle McGovern, Alene Pearson, Elizabeth Kropf, Kim Neilson and Mark Schmitz (Keweenaw rift), Monica Mustain (Furnace Creek) and Nikita Avdievitch (China). The Chinese portion of the project was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41430211) to Junlai Liu. David Ferrill provided a thorough review of an earlier draft of this manuscript. Comments by Jens Nuchter, Telemaco Tesei and 2 anonymous reviewers improved the clarity of the paper.


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Copyright information

© Geologische Vereinigung e.V. (GV) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geology DepartmentMacalester CollegeSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography-GeologyIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral Resources and Key Laboratory of Lithosphere TectonicsChina University of GeosciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.VilleurbanneFrance
  6. 6.School of Science and Technology - Geology DivisionUniversity of CamerinoCamerinoItaly
  7. 7.Department of Geological SciencesCSU FullertonFullertonUSA
  8. 8.School of Earth Sciences and Environmental SustainabilityNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA
  9. 9.Minnesota Department of Natural ResourcesSt. PaulUSA

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