SHALLOW earthquakes are produced by brittle shear fracture of rock and/or fictional sliding on pre-existing fault surfaces1. At very high pressures, however, brittle fracture and frictional sliding are impossible because frictional resistance to movement on any potential fault surface is so great that ductile stress-relief processes accomodate strain at lower shear stresses than those necessary to activate faulting. Nevertheless, more than 20% of earthquakes with magnitudes greater than five occur at depths greater than 300km, where the pressure exceeds l0 GPa (ref. 2). Possible explanations for this paradox have been offered by several recent experimental studies of shearing instabilities associated with phase transformations at high 3–8. One of these mechanisms is associated with anticrack development during the olivine → spinel (α → γ) phase transformation in Mg2GeO4 at pressures of 1–2 GPa (refs 4–6); it is particularly attractive because it operates between mineral structures known to occur in the mantle. We show here that this mechanism also can operate in natural silicate olivine, (Mg,Fe)2SiO4, during onset of the α → β transformation at the much higher pressures at which deep earthquakes occur. These results lend strong support to the hypothesis that the anticrack mechanism is responsible for such earthquakes4.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Open Access articles citing this article.
Nature Communications Open Access 15 September 2022
Nature Communications Open Access 03 August 2018
Earth, Planets and Space Open Access 06 June 2014
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Scholz, C. C. H. The Mechanics of Earthquakes and Faulting (Cambridge University Press, 1990).
Frohlich, C. A. Rev. Earth planet Sci. 17, 227–254 (1989).
Kirby, S. H. J. geophys. Res. 92, 13789–13800 (1987).
Green, H. W. & Burnley, P. C. Nature 341, 733–737 (1989).
Green H. W. & Burnley, P. C. J. geol Soc. Lond. (in the press).
Burnley, P. C., Green, H. W. & Prior, D. J. geophys. Res. (in the press).
Meade, C. & Jeanloz, R. Nature 339, 616–618 (1989).
Meade, C. & Jeanloz, R. Eos 70, 1321 (1989).
Mukherjee, A. K., Bieler, T. R. & Chokshi, A. H. Proc. 10th Riso Int. Symp. on Metals and Material Science (eds Bilde-Sorensen, J. B. et al.) 207–231 (Riso National Laboratory, Roskilde, 1989).
Katsura, T. & Ito, E. J. geophys. Res. 94, 15663–15670 (1989).
Akaogi, M., Ito, E. & Navrotsky, A. J. geophys. Res. 94, 15671–15686 (1989).
Borch, R. S. & Green, H. W. Nature 330, 345–348 (1987).
Borch, R. S. & Green, H. W. Phys. Earth planet. Inter. 55, 269–276 (1989).
Walker, D., Carpenter, M. A. & Hitch, C. M. Am. Miner. (in the press).
Vaughan, P. J., Green, H. W. & Coe, R. S. Nature 298, 357–358 (1982).
Burnley, P. C. & Green, H. W. Nature 338, 753–756 (1989).
Vaughan, P. J., Green, H. W. & Coe, R. S. Tectonophysics 108, 299–322 (1984).
Green, H. W. Geophys. Monogr. 36, 201–211 (1986).
About this article
Cite this article
Green, H., Young, T., Walker, D. et al. Anticrack-associated faulting at very high pressure in natural olivine. Nature 348, 720–722 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1038/348720a0
This article is cited by
Nature Communications (2022)
Nature Communications (2018)
Nature Geoscience (2015)
Scientific Reports (2014)