Fluid flow and rock alteration along the Glarus thrust


Chemical alteration of rocks along the Glarus overthrust reflects different stages of fluid rock interaction associated with thrusting. At the base of the Verrucano in the hanging wall of the thrust, sodium was largely removed during an early stage of fluid-rock interaction, which is ascribed to thrust-parallel fluid flow in a damage zone immediately above the thrust. This alteration leads to the formation of white mica at the expense of albite-rich plagioclase and potassium feldspar. This probably enhanced mechanical weakening of the Verrucano base allowing for progressive strain localization. At a later stage of thrusting, fluid-mediated chemical exchange between the footwall and the hanging wall lithologies produced a second generation of alteration phenomena. Reduction of ferric iron oxides at the base of the Verrucano indicates fluid supply from the underlying flysch units in the northern section of the thrust. Fluid supply from the footwall may have kept pore fluid pressure close to lithostatic and enhanced cataclastic deformation. The chemical characteristics of the Lochseiten calc-tectonite suggest its derivation from Mesozoic limestone. In the southern sections of the thrust, the major element and stable isotope compositions show continuous trends from the Cretaceous limestone in the footwall of the thrust up to the contact with the Verrucano, indicating that the calc-tectonite developed due to progressive deformation from the footwall units. In the northern sections of the thrust, the Lochseiten calc-tectonite has a distinct chemical and stable isotope signature, which suggests that it is largely derived from Infrahelvetic slices, i.e. decapitated fragments of the footwall limestone from the southern sections of the thrust, which were tectonically emplaced along the thrust further north. Only at the Lochseiten type locality the original chemical and stable isotope signatures of the calc-tectonite were completely obliterated during intense reworking by dissolution and re-precipitation.

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Correspondence to Rainer Abart.

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This work was planned and began in cooperation with Martin Burkhard. It was his enthusiasm and unlimited support that gave us the courage to address the processes that were active during formation of the magnificent Glarus thrust that Martin was so familiar with. After Martin passed away we not only miss a great scientist but we miss our friend. This contribution is devoted to Martin Burkhard.

Manuscript received November 11, 2007, Revision accepted January 7, 2008

Edtitorial handling: Neil Manktelow, Stefan Bucher

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Hürzeler, JP., Abart, R. Fluid flow and rock alteration along the Glarus thrust. Swiss J. Geosci. 101, 251–268 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00015-008-1265-1

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  • Glarus thrust
  • rock alteration
  • strain localization
  • Lochseiten calc tectonite