Geometry of the Nojima Fault at Nojima-Hirabayashi, Japan — II. Microstructures and their Implications for Permeability and Strength

  • Diane E. Moore
  • David A. Lockner
  • Hisao Ito
  • Riuji Ikeda
  • Hidemi Tanaka
  • Kentaro Omura
Part of the Pageoph Topical Volumes book series (PTV)


Samples of damage-zone granodiorite and fault core from two drillholes into the active, strikeslip Nojima fault zone display microstructures and alteration features that explain their measured present-day strengths and permeabilities and provide insight on the evolution of these properties in the fault zone. The least deformed damage-zone rocks contain two sets of nearly perpendicular (60–90° angles), roughly vertical fractures that are concentrated in quartz-rich areas, with one set typically dominating over the other. With increasing intensity of deformation, which corresponds generally to increasing proximity to the core, zones of heavily fragmented rock, termed microbreccia zones, develop between prominent fractures of both sets. Granodiorite adjoining intersecting microbreccia zones in the active fault strands has been repeatedly fractured and locally brecciated, accompanied by the generation of millimeter-scale voids that are partly filled with secondary minerals. Minor shear bands overprint some of the heavily deformed areas, and small-scale shear zones form from the pairing of closely spaced shear bands. Strength and permeability measurements were made on core collected from the fault within a year after a major (Kobe) earthquake. Measured strengths of the samples decrease regularly with increasing fracturing and fragmentation, such that the gouge of the fault core and completely brecciated samples from the damage zone are the weakest. Permeability increases with increasing disruption, generally reaching a peak in heavily fractured but still more or less cohesive rock at the scale of the laboratory samples. Complete loss of cohesion, as in the gouge or the interiors of large microbreccia zones, is accompanied by a reduction of permeability by 1–2 orders of magnitude below the peak values. The core samples show abundant evidence of hydrothermal alteration and mineral precipitation. Permeability is thus expected to decrease and strength to increase somewhat in active fault strands between earthquakes, as mineral deposits progressively seal fractures and fill pore spaces.

Key words

Fault zone microstructures secondary mineralization permeability strength 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diane E. Moore
    • 1
  • David A. Lockner
    • 1
  • Hisao Ito
    • 2
    • 3
  • Riuji Ikeda
    • 4
    • 5
  • Hidemi Tanaka
    • 6
    • 7
  • Kentaro Omura
    • 4
  1. 1.U. S. Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.Geological Survey of JapanTsukubaJapan
  3. 3.Center for Deep Earth ExplorationJapan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and TechnologyYokohamaJapan
  4. 4.National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster PreventionTsukubaJapan
  5. 5.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesHokkaido UniversityHokkaidoJapan
  6. 6.Ehime UniversityMatsuyamaJapan
  7. 7.Department of Earth and Planetrary SciencesUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan

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