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The Appearance Of Highly Reflective Fault Mirrors In Carbonate Rocks

1054 words - 5 pages

The appearance of highly reflective fault mirrors (FMs) (Figure 1) in carbonate rocks is a topic that is only recently receiving interest. Knowing the conditions that are required to produce these FMs is important as it can indicate how the fault has ruptured providing a mitigation tool for appropriate plans to be put in place for similar events in limestone dominated regions. This is geologically important, has economical significance and could save lives. Recognised FMs occur in carbonate rocks during presumed faulting which is a common occurrence in the earth’s upper crust (Barnhoon et al 2005), especially through Mediterranean countries such as Greece and Italy (Smith et al 2011). Fault ...view middle of the document...

1 – 1.0 m in the larger outcrop scale overview of the surface. Between hand sample scale and ~1 μm, most the observed surfaces showed a few subparallel striations but were mostly smooth. Striations are common on slip surfaces (Siman-Tov). Roughness decreases with increasing slip, which suggests the area has been subjected to large slip amounts. However the occurrence of extensional fractures known as Riedel shears which branch off the striations suggest that the area was exposed to varying amount of slip. When analysed at in the nanoscale, carbonate grains with diameters of tens to hundreds of nanometers are visible (nanograins). Surface roughness analysis showed that the nanograins act as a coating over a rougher layer of larger micron-size calcite crystals. The surfaces are smoother than they anticipated due to the deferentially stratified surface profile that was observed in previous larger scale studies (Renard et al 2006 and Candela et al 2009). This was identified using AFM.
The polishing industry uses three stages to create a reflective mirror like polish. These three stages are consistent with the observations from the carbonate FMs and experimentally deformed samples (Adachi and Kato 2000). This begins with the reduction of surface roughness through brittle abrasion and the formations of striations. Nanograin recrystallization then occurs through the reduction of size of the grains, and finally smearing of the nanograins forms the smooth hard surfaces on the nanograins.
The reason that these surfaces reflect light is due to the roughness and can be explained root mean square (RMS) mathematical methods. The three FM samples and control were compared. Light rays with wavelength of 550 nm were reflected off the surfaces. The FMs showed RMS values of <20 nm while the control was in contrast with >100 nm (Siman-Tov).
It is difficult to understand why and how nanograins form, even though they have been observed in both natural and experimental situations. This is because fragmentation processes that lead to them is not expected to form grains less than ~1μm in size. However, instead of the brittle cracks, plastic deformation is...

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