Coseismic fluid–rock interactions at high temperatures in the Chelungpu fault

Article metrics

Abstract

Aqueous fluids are thought to have an essential role in faulting and the dynamic propagation of earthquake rupture. Fluid overpressure can affect earthquake nucleation1,2 and in a process termed thermal pressurization, pore fluid pressure produced by frictional heating can reduce the effective normal stress acting on the fault surface3,4,5. This may lead to a marked reduction in fault strength during slip. However, the coseismic presence of fluids within slip zones and the role of fluids in dynamic fault weakening is still a matter of debate. Here we present compositions of major and trace elements as well as isotope ratios of core samples representing relatively undamaged as well as very fine-grained deformed material from three active zones of the Chelungpu fault, Taiwan. Depth profiles across the most intensely sheared bands that range in thickness from 2–15 cm exhibit sharp compositional peaks of fluid-mobile elements and of strontium isotopes. We suggest that high-temperature fluids (>350 C) derived from heating of sediment pore fluids during the earthquake interacted with material within the fault zone and mobilized the elements. The coseismic presence of high-temperature fluids under conditions of low hydraulic diffusivity6 within the fault zone is favourable for thermal pressurization. This effect may have caused a dynamic decrease of friction along the Chelungpu fault during the 1999 magnitude 7.6 Chi-Chi earthquake.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Depth profiles of magnetic susceptibility, trace-element concentrations and Sr and Pb isotope ratios across the three fault zones.
Figure 2: Trace-element and isotope compositions of the black gouges at 1,136.31 m, 1,194.73 m and 1,243.43 m and calculated gouge compositions.
Figure 3: Calculated compositions of the black gouge in FZB1136 as a function of the fluid/gouge mass ratio.

Change history

  • 15 September 2008

    In the abstract of the version of this Letter originally published online, the word 'undamages' should have read 'undamaged'. This has now been corrected for all versions of the Letter.

References

  1. 1

    Sibson, R. H. Implication of fault-valve behaviour for rupture nucleation and recurrence. Tectonophysics 211, 283–293 (1992).

  2. 2

    Collettini, C., Chiaraluce, L., Pucci, F., Barchi, M. R. & Cocco, M. Looking at fault reactivation matching structural geology and seismological data. J. Struct. Geol. 27, 937–942 (2005).

  3. 3

    Sibson, R. H. Interaction between temperature and pore-fluid pressure during earthquake faulting—a mechanism for partial or total stress relief. Nature Phys. Sci. 243, 66–68 (1973).

  4. 4

    Andrews, D. J. A fault constitutive relation accounting for thermal pressurization of pore fluid. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 2363 (2002).

  5. 5

    Rice, J. R. Heating and weakening of faults during earthquake slip. J. Geophys. Res. 111, B05311 (2006).

  6. 6

    Doan, M. L., Brodsky, E. E., Kano, Y. & Ma, K. F. In situ measurement of the hydraulic diffusivity of the active Chelungpu Fault, Taiwan. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L16317 (2006).

  7. 7

    Shin, T. C., Kuo, K. W., Lee, W. H. K., Teng, T. L. & Tsai, Y. B. A preliminary report on the 1999 Chi-Chi (Taiwan) earthquake. Seismol. Res. Lett. 71, 24–30 (2000).

  8. 8

    Chung, J. K. & Shin, T. C. Implications of the rupture process from the displacement distribution of strong ground motions recorded during the 21 September 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan earthquake. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci. 10, 777–786 (1999).

  9. 9

    Andrews, D. J. Thermal pressurization explains enhanced long-period motion in the Chi-Chi earthquake. Eos Trans. AGU 86, S34A-04 (2005) Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract.

  10. 10

    Ma, K. F. et al. Evidence for fault lubrication during the 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan, earthquake (Mw7.6). Geophys. Res. Lett. 30, 1244 (2003).

  11. 11

    Hirono, T. et al. High magnetic susceptibility of fault gouge within Taiwan Chelungpu-fault: Nondestructive continuous measurements of physical and chemical properties in fault rocks recovered from Hole B, TCDP. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L15303 (2006).

  12. 12

    Hirono, T. et al. Nondestructive continuous physical property measurements of core samples recovered from Hole B, Taiwan Chelungpu-fault Drilling Project. J. Geophys. Res. 112, B07404 (2007).

  13. 13

    Ma, K.-F. et al. Slip zone and energetics of a large earthquake from the Taiwan Chelungpu-fault Drilling Project. Nature 444, 473–476 (2006).

  14. 14

    Hirono, T. et al. Evidence of frictional melting from disk-shaped black material, discovered within the Taiwan Chelungpu fault system. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L19311 (2006).

  15. 15

    Mishima, T., Hirono, T., Soh, W. & Song, S.-R. Thermal history estimation of the Taiwan Chelungpu fault using rock-magnetic methods. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L23311 (2006).

  16. 16

    Ikehara, M. et al. Low total and inorganic carbon contents within the Chelungpu fault System. Geochem. J. 41, 391–396 (2007).

  17. 17

    Kano, Y. et al. Heat signature on the Chelungpu fault associated with the 1999 Chi-Chi, Taiwan earthquake. Geophys. Res. Lett. 33, L14306 (2006).

  18. 18

    Burke, W. H. et al. Variation of seawater 87Sr/86Sr throughout Phanerozoic time. Geology 10, 516–519 (1982).

  19. 19

    You, C.-F., Castillo, P. R., Gieskes, J. M., Chan, L. H. & Spivack, A. J. Trace element behavior in hydrothermal experiments: Implication for fluid processes at shallow depths in subduction zones. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 140, 41–52 (1996).

  20. 20

    James, R.H., Allen, D. E. & Seyfried, W. E. Jr. An experimental study of alteration of oceanic crust and terrigenous sediments at moderate temperatures (51 to 350 C): Insights as to chemical processes in near-shore ridge-flank hydrothermal systems. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 67, 681–691 (2003).

  21. 21

    Hirono, T. et al. Characterization of slip zone associated with the 1999 Taiwan Chi-Chi earthquake: X-ray CT image analyses and microstructural observations of the Taiwan Chelungpu fault. Tectonophysics 449, 63–84 (2008).

  22. 22

    Kharaka, Y. K. & Hanor, J. S. in Surface and Ground Water, Weathering, and Soils (ed. Drever, J. I.) 499–540 (Treatise on Geochemistry, Holland and Turekian, Elsevier, Oxford, 2003).

  23. 23

    Tanikawa, W. et al. High magnetic susceptibility produced in high-velocity frictional tests on core samples from the Chelungpu fault in Taiwan. Geophys. Res. Lett. 34, L15304 (2007).

  24. 24

    Beck, J. R., Berndt, M. E. & Seyfried, W. E. Jr. Application of isotopic doping techniques to evaluation of reaction kinetics and fluid/mineral distribution coefficients: An experimental study of calcite at elevated temperatures and pressures. Chem. Geol. 97, 125–144 (1992).

  25. 25

    Bizzarri, A. & Cocco, M. A thermal pressurization model for the spontaneous dynamic rupture propagation on a three-dimensional fault: 1. Methodological approach. J. Geophys. Res. 111, B05303 (2006).

  26. 26

    Seno, T. The 21 September, 1999 Chi-Chi earthquake in Taiwan: Implications for tsunami earthquakes. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci. 11, 701–708 (2000).

  27. 27

    Hirono, T. et al. Clay mineral reactions caused by frictional heating during an earthquake: An example from the Taiwan Chelungpu fault. Geophys. Res. Lett. 35, doi:10.1029/2008GL034476 (2008).

  28. 28

    Hirono, T. et al. Chemical and isotopic characteristics of interstitial fluids within the Taiwan Chelungpu fault. Geochem. J. 41, 97–102 (2007).

  29. 29

    Yoshikawa, M. & Nakamura, E. Precise isotope determination of trace amounts of Sr in magnesium-rich samples. J. Min. Petr. Econ. Geol. 88, 548–561 (1993).

  30. 30

    Tanimizu, M. & Ishikawa, T. Determination of rapid and precise Pb isotope analytical techniques using MC-ICP-MS and new results for GSJ rock reference samples. Geochem. J. 40, 121–133 (2006).

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the TCDP Hole B research group, including K. Aoike, K. Fujimoto, Y. Hashimoto, M. Murayama, T. Fukuchi, M. Ikehara, H. Ito, M. Kinoshita, K. Masuda, T. Matsubara, O. Matsubayashi, K. Mizoguchi, N. Nakamura, K. Otsuki, T. Shimamoto, H. Sone and M. Takahashi.

Author information

T.I., paper writing, project planning and isotope analysis; M.T., project planning, sample collection and isotope analysis; K.N., J.M., O.T., M.S., major- and trace-element and isotope analyses; T. H., T.M., W.T., W.L., H.K., project planning and sample collection; W.S., S.-R.S., project planning.

Correspondence to Tsuyoshi Ishikawa.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary figure S1 and table S1 (PDF 619 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Ishikawa, T., Tanimizu, M., Nagaishi, K. et al. Coseismic fluid–rock interactions at high temperatures in the Chelungpu fault. Nature Geosci 1, 679–683 (2008) doi:10.1038/ngeo308

Download citation

Further reading