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Fialko, Y, Simons M, Khazan Y.  2001.  Finite source modelling of magmatic unrest in Socorro, New Mexico, and Long Valley, California. Geophysical Journal International. 146:191-200.   10.1046/j.1365-246X.2001.00453.x   AbstractWebsite

We investigate surface deformation associated with currently active crustal magma bodies in Socorro, New Mexico, and Long Valley, California, USA. We invert available geodetic data from these locations to constrain the overall geometry and dynamics of the inferred deformation sources at depth. Our brst-fitting model for the Socorro magma body is a sill with a depth of 19 km, an effective diameter of 70 km and a rate of increase in the excess magma pressure of 0.6 kPa yr(-1). We show that the corresponding volumetric inflation rate is similar to6 x 10(-3) km(3) yr(-1), which is considerably less than previously suggested. The measured inflation rate of the Socorro magma body may result from a steady influx of magma from a deep source, or a volume increase associated with melting of the magma chamber roof (i.e. crustal anatexis). In the latter case, the most recent major injection of mantle-derived melts into the middle crust beneath Socorro map have occurred within the last several tens to several hundreds of years. The Synthetic Interferometric Aperture Radar (InSAR) data collected in the area of the Long Valley caldera, CA, between June 1996 and July 1998 reveal an intracaldera uplift with a maximum amplitude of similar to 11 cm and a volume of 3.5 x 10(-2) km(3). Modelling of the InSAR data suggests that the observed deformation might be due to either a sill-like magma body at a depth of similar to 12 km or a pluton-like magma body at a depth of similar to8 km beneath the resurgent dome. Assuming that the caldera fill deforms as an isotropic linear elastic solid, a joint inversion of the InSAR data and two-colons laser geodimeter data (which provide independent constraints on horizontal displacements at the surface) suggests that the inferred magma chamber is a steeply dipping prolate spheroid with a depth of 7-9 km and an aspect ratio in excess of 2:1. Our results highlight the need for large radar look angles and multiple look directions in future InSAR missions.

Fialko, Y, Sandwell D, Simons M, Rosen P.  2005.  Three-dimensional deformation caused by the Bam, Iran, earthquake and the origin of shallow slip deficit. Nature. 435:295-299.   10.1038/nature03425   AbstractWebsite

Our understanding of the earthquake process requires detailed insights into how the tectonic stresses are accumulated and released on seismogenic faults. We derive the full vector displacement field due to the Bam, Iran, earthquake of moment magnitude 6.5 using radar data from the Envisat satellite of the European Space Agency. Analysis of surface deformation indicates that most of the seismic moment release along the 20-km-long strike-slip rupture occurred at a shallow depth of 4 - 5 km, yet the rupture did not break the surface. The Bam event may therefore represent an end-member case of the 'shallow slip deficit' model, which postulates that coseismic slip in the uppermost crust is systematically less than that at seismogenic depths ( 4 - 10 km). The InSAR-derived surface displacement data from the Bam and other large shallow earthquakes suggest that the uppermost section of the seismogenic crust around young and developing faults may undergo a distributed failure in the interseismic period, thereby accumulating little elastic strain.

Fialko, Y, Khazan Y, Simons M.  2001.  Deformation due to a pressurized horizontal circular crack in an elastic half-space, with applications to volcano geodesy. Geophysical Journal International. 146:181-190.   10.1046/j.1365-246X.2001.00452.x   AbstractWebsite

We consider deformation due to sill-like magma intrusions using a model of a horizontal circular crack in a semi-infinite elastic solid. We present exact expressions for vertical and horizontal displacements of the free surface of a half-space, and calculate surface displacements for a special case of a uniformly pressurized crack. We derive expressions for other observable geophysical parameters, such as the volume of a surface uplift/subsidence, and the corresponding volume change due to fluid injection/withdrawal at depth. We demonstrate that for essentially oblate (i.e. sill-like) source geometries the volume change at the source always equals the volume of the displaced material at the surface of a half-space. Our solutions compare favourably to a number of previously published approximate models. Surface deformation due to a 'point' crack (that is, a crack with a large depth-to-radius ratio) differs appreciably from that due to an isotropic point source ('Mogi model'). Geodetic inversions that employ only one component of deformation (either vertical or horizontal) are unlikely to resolve the overall geometry of subsurface deformation sources even in a simplest case of axisymmetric deformation. Measurements of a complete vector displacement field at the Earth's surface may help to constrain the depth and morphology of active magma reservoirs. However, our results indicate that differences in surface displacements due to various axisymmetric sources may be subtle. In particular, the sill-like and pluton-like magma chambers may give rise to differences in the ratio of maximum horizontal displacements to maximum vertical displacements (a parameter that is most indicative of the source geometry) that are less than 30 per cent. Given measurement errors in geodetic data, such differences may be hard to distinguish.

Fialko, Y.  2004.  Temperature fields generated by the elastodynamic propagation of shear cracks in the Earth. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 109   10.1029/2003jb002497   AbstractWebsite

Thermal perturbations associated with seismic slip on faults may significantly affect the dynamic friction and the mechanical energy release during earthquakes. This paper investigates details of the coseismic temperature increases associated with the elastodynamic propagation of shear cracks and effects of fault heating on the dynamic fault strength. Self-similar solutions are presented for the temperature evolution on a surface of a mode II shear crack and a self-healing pulse rupturing at a constant velocity. The along-crack temperature distribution is controlled by a single parameter, the ratio of the crack thickness to the width of the conductive thermal boundary layer, (w) over bar. For "thick'' cracks, or at early stages of rupture ((w) over bar > 1), the local temperature on the crack surface is directly proportional to the amount of slip. For "thin'' cracks, or at later times ((w) over bar < 1), the temperature maximum shifts toward the crack tip. For faults having slip zone thickness of the order of centimeters or less, the onset of thermally induced phenomena (e.g., frictional melting, thermal pressurization, etc.) may occur at any point along the rupture, depending on the degree of slip localization and rupture duration. In the absence of significant increases in the pore fluid pressure, localized fault slip may raise temperature by several hundred degrees, sufficient to cause melting. The onset of frictional melting may give rise to substantial increases in the effective fault strength due to an increase in the effective fault contact area, and high viscosity of silicate melts near solidus. The inferred transient increases in the dynamic friction ("viscous braking'') are consistent with results of high-speed rock sliding experiments and might explain field observations of the fault wall rip-out structures associated with pseudotachylites. Possible effects of viscous braking on the earthquake rupture dynamics include (1) delocalization of slip and increases in the effective fracture energy, (2) transition from a crack-like to a pulse-like rupture propagation, or (3) ultimate rupture arrest. Assuming that the pulse-like ruptures heal by incipient fusion, the seismologic observations can be used to place a lower bound on the dynamic fault friction. This bound is found to be of the order of several megapascals, essentially independent of the earthquake size. Further experimental and theoretical studies of melt rheology at high strain rates are needed to quantify the effects of melting on the dynamic fault strength.

Fialko, YA, Rubin AM.  1999.  What controls the along-strike slopes of volcanic rift zones? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 104:20007-20020.   10.1029/1999jb900143   AbstractWebsite

We investigate the dynamics of viscous pressure losses associated with lateral magma transport in volcanic rift zones by performing (I) coupled elastic-hydrodynamic simulations of downrift magma flow in dikes and (2) analog experiments mimicking lateral dike propagation in the presence of an along-rift topographic slope. It is found that near-source eruptions are likely to be favored by shallow slopes while distant downrift eruptions may be encouraged by steeper slopes, provided that along-rift variations in the tectonic stress are negligible or uncorrelated on the timescale of multiple dike intrusions. This implies the existence of a critical slope to which a volcanic rift zone would naturally evolve. Such behavior is produced by three-dimensional (3-D) elastic effects and is controlled by the ratio of the driving pressure gradient due to the along-strike topographic slope to the vertical gradient in the excess magma pressure in the dike. This model may be viewed as complementary to commonly cited mechanisms that appeal to magma viscosity and the dynamics of freezing of lava flows at the surface to explain the low profiles of basaltic shield volcanoes. Our estimated values of the critical slopes are in general agreement with observations in Hawaiian rift zones, but further development of fully 3-D models is required for more accurate predictions.

Fialko, Y, Sandwell D, Agnew D, Simons M, Shearer P, Minster B.  2002.  Deformation on nearby faults induced by the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake. Science. 297:1858-1862.   10.1126/science.1074671   AbstractWebsite

Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar observations of surface deformation due to the 1999 Hector Mine earthquake reveal motion on several nearby faults of the eastern California shear zone. We document both vertical and horizontal displacements of several millimeters to several centimeters across kilometer-wide zones centered on pre-existing faults. Portions of some faults experienced retrograde (that is, opposite to their long-term geologic slip) motion during or shortly after the earthquake. The observed deformation likely represents elastic response of compliant fault zones to the permanent co-seismic stress changes. The induced fault displacements imply decreases in the effective shear modulus within the kilometer-wide fault zones, indicating that the latter are mechanically distinct from the ambient crustal rocks.

Fialko, YA, Rubin AM.  1997.  Numerical simulation of high-pressure rock tensile fracture experiments: Evidence of an increase in fracture energy with pressure? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 102:5231-5242.   10.1029/96jb03859   AbstractWebsite

High confining pressure fracture tests of Indiana limestone [Abou-Sayed, 1977] and Iidate granite [Hashida et al., 1993] were simulated using boundary element techniques and a Dugdale-Barenblatt (tension-softening) model of the fracture process zone. Our results suggest a substantial (more than a factor of 2) increase in the fracture energy of Indiana limestone when the confining pressure was increased from zero to only 6-7 MPa. While Hashida es al. [1993] concluded that there was no change in the fracture energy of Iidate granite at confining pressures up to 26.5 MPa, we find that data from one series of experiments (''compact-tension'' tests in their terminology) are also consistent with a significant (more than a factor of 2) increase in fracture energy. Data from another set of their experiments (thick-walled cylinder tests) seem to indicate a decrease in the fracture energy of Iidate granite at confining pressures,of 6-8 MPa, but these may be biased due to the very small specimen size. To our knowledge these results are the first reliable indication from laboratory experiments that rock tensile fracture energy varies with confining pressure. Based on these results, some possible mechanisms of pressure sensitive fracture are discussed. We suggest that the inferred increase in fracture energy results from more extensive inelastic deformation near the crack tip that increases the effective critical crack opening displacement. Such deformation might have occurred due to the large deviatoric stress in the vicinity of the crack tip in the Abou-Sayed experiments, and due to the enlarged region of significant tensile stress near the crack tip in the Hashida et al. compact tension tests. These results also highlight the fact that at confining pressures that exceed the tensile strength of the material, tensile fracture energy will in general depend upon the crack size and the distribution of loads within it, as well as the ambient stress.

Fialko, Y.  2006.  Interseismic strain accumulation and the earthquake potential on the southern San Andreas fault system. Nature. 441:968-971.   10.1038/nature04797   AbstractWebsite

The San Andreas fault in California is a mature continental transform fault that accommodates a significant fraction of motion between the North American and Pacific plates. The two most recent great earthquakes on this fault ruptured its northern and central sections in 1906 and 1857, respectively. The southern section of the fault, however, has not produced a great earthquake in historic times ( for at least 250 years). Assuming the average slip rate of a few centimetres per year, typical of the rest of the San Andreas fault, the minimum amount of slip deficit accrued on the southern section is of the order of 7 - 10 metres, comparable to the maximum co-seismic offset ever documented on the fault(1,2). Here I present high-resolution measurements of interseismic deformation across the southern San Andreas fault system using a well-populated catalogue of space-borne synthetic aperture radar data. The data reveal a nearly equal partitioning of deformation between the southern San Andreas and San Jacinto faults, with a pronounced asymmetry in strain accumulation with respect to the geologically mapped fault traces. The observed strain rates confirm that the southern section of the San Andreas fault may be approaching the end of the interseismic phase of the earthquake cycle.

Fialko, Y, Simons M.  2001.  Evidence for on-going inflation of the Socorro magma body, New Mexico, from interferometric synthetic aperture radar imaging. Geophysical Research Letters. 28:3549-3552.   10.1029/2001gl013318   AbstractWebsite

Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (In-SAR) imaging of the central Rio Grande rift (New Mexico, USA) during 1992-1999 reveals a crustal uplift of several centimeters that spatially coincides with the seismologically determined outline of the Socorro magma body, one of the largest currently active magma intrusions in the Earth's continental crust. Modeling of interferograms shows that the observed deformation may be due to elastic opening of a sill-like intrusion at a rate of a few millimeters per year. Despite an apparent constancy of the geodetically determined uplift rate, thermodynamic arguments suggest that it is unlikely that the Socorro magma body has formed via steady state elastic inflation.

Fialko, Y, Khazan Y.  2005.  Fusion by earthquake fault friction: Stick or slip? Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 110   10.1029/2005jb003869   AbstractWebsite

[1] Field observations of pseudotachylites and experimental studies of high-speed friction indicate that melting on a slipping interface may significantly affect the magnitude of shear stresses resisting slip. We investigate the effects of rock melting on the dynamic friction using theoretical models of shear heating that couple heat transfer, thermodynamics of phase transitions, and fluid mechanics. Results of laboratory experiments conducted at high ( order of m/s) slip velocities but low ( order of MPa) normal stresses suggest that the onset of frictional melting may give rise to substantial increases in the effective fault strength, presumably due to viscous effects. However, extrapolation of the modeling results to in situ conditions suggests that the efficiency of viscous braking is significantly reduced under high normal and shear stresses. When transient increases in the dynamic fault strength due to fusion are not sufficient to inhibit slip, decreases in the effective melt viscosity due to shear heating and melting of clasts drastically decrease the dynamic friction, resulting in a nearly complete stress drop ("thermal runaway''). The amount of energy dissipation associated with the formation of pseudotachylites is governed by the temperature dependence of melt viscosity and the average clast size in the fault gouge prior to melting. Clasts from a coarse-grained gouge have lower chances of survival in a pseudotachylite due to a higher likelihood of nonequilibrium overheating. The maximum temperature and energy dissipation attainable on the fault surface are ultimately limited by either the rock solidus ( via viscous braking, and slip arrest) or liquidus ( via thermal runaway and vanishing resistance to sliding). Our modeling results indicate that the thermally activated fault strengthening and rupture arrest are unlikely to occur in most mafic protoliths but might be relevant for quartz-rich rocks, especially at shallow (< 5 - 7 km) depths where the driving shear stress is relatively low.

Fialko, Y, Simons M.  2000.  Deformation and seismicity in the Coso geothermal area, Inyo County, California: Observations and modeling using satellite radar interferometry. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 105:21781-21793.   10.1029/2000jb900169   AbstractWebsite

Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) data collected in the Coso geothermal area, eastern California, during 1993-1999 indicate ground subsidence over a similar to 50 km(2) region that approximately coincides with the production area of the Coso geothermal plant. The maximum subsidence rate in the peak of the anomaly is similar to 3.5 cm yr(-1), and the average volumetric rate of subsidence is of the order of 10(6) m(3) yr(-1). The radar interferograms reveal a complex deformation pattern, with at least two irregular subsidence peaks in the northern part of the anomaly and a region of relative uplift on the south. We invert the InSAR displacement data for the positions, geometry, and relative strengths of the deformation sources at depth using a nonlinear least squares minimization algorithm. We use elastic solutions for a prolate uniformly pressurized spheroidal cavity in a semi-infinite body as basis functions for our inversions. Source depths inferred from our simulations range from 1 to 3 km, which corresponds to the production depths of the Coso geothermal plant. Underpressures in the geothermal reservoir inferred from the inversion are of the order of 0.1-1 MPa (except a few abnormally high underpressures that are apparently biased toward the small source dimensions). Analysis of the InSAR data covering consecutive time intervals indicates that the depths and/or horizontal extent of the deformation sources may increase with time. This increase presumably reflects increasing volumes of the subsurface reservoir affected by the geothermal exploitation. We show that clusters of microearthquakes associated with the geothermal power operation may result from perturbations in the pore fluid pressure, as well as normal and shear stresses caused by the deflation of the geothermal reservoir.

Fialko, Y.  2004.  Evidence of fluid-filled upper crust from observations of postseismic deformation due to the 1992 M(w)7.3 Landers earthquake. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 109   10.1029/2004jb002985   AbstractWebsite

Postseismic deformation due to the 1992 M(w)7.3 Landers, southern California, earthquake is investigated using the entire catalog of the ERS synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, and GPS measurements made between 1992 and 1999. The stacked interferometric SAR (InSAR) data spanning the time period of 7 years between the Landers and the Hector Mine earthquakes reveal a transient postseismic deformation with a characteristic decay time of several years. The horizontal displacements measured with GPS exhibit somewhat smaller decay times of 1-2 years. I use a slip model of the Landers earthquake that fits all available geodetic data [Fialko, 2004] to calculate and compare permanent postseismic displacements due to viscoelastic and poroelastic relaxation. Viscoelastic models assuming weak mantle or lower crust do not agree with the InSAR data in the limit of complete relaxation, implying large (>10 years) relaxation times, essentially nonlinear rheology, or an appreciable yield strength of the lower lithosphere. A combination of poroelastic relaxation above the brittle-ductile transition and localized shear deformation on and below the Landers rupture is able to explain most of the available geodetic data. The InSAR data suggest that pore fluids and interconnected pore space are ubiquitously present throughout the seismogenic layer up to depth of 15 km or greater. The effective hydraulic diffusivity of the upper crust inferred from the kinetics of surface deformation is of the order of 0.1-1 m(2)/s, consistent with the laboratory, field, and deep borehole measurements. The post-Landers geodetic data suggest that discrete narrow fault zones extend into the lower crust and perhaps the uppermost mantle, thus lending support to a "block tectonics'' model of the Eastern California Shear Zone.

Fialko, YA, Rubin AM.  1998.  Thermodynamics of lateral dike propagation: Implications for crustal accretion at slow spreading mid-ocean ridges. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 103:2501-2514.   10.1029/97jb03105   AbstractWebsite

We consider solidification of hot fluid flowing through a rigid-wall channel of infinite extent. The calculated "thermal arrest" lengths are used to investigate the role of magma freezing in limiting the propagation distance of lateral dike intrusions. Our results demonstrate that for reasonable parameters the propagation distances of meter-wide dikes do not exceed the wavelength of crustal thickness variations or transform fault spacing along slow spreading ridges. This suggests that thermal controls on the crustal melt delivery system could be an important factor in modulating these variations. Unlike published results for a finite channel, which predict unlimited meltback of the channel walls if the prefreezing fluid velocity exceeds some critical value, any flow into an infinite channel will eventually freeze, provided that shear heating in the magma is negligible. The thermal arrest distances depend strongly on the average dike thickness h (proportional to h(4) for dikes driven by an along-strike topographic slope and proportional to h(2) for dikes driven by an excess source pressure). Thermal erosion of the country rocks associated with lateral dike intrusions is likely to be confined to a very small region near the ma,oma source. Substantial correlations between the along-strike bathymetry and geochemistry of the erupted lavas along individual ridge segments may be consistent with high-level basalt fractionation in the laterally propagating dikes.

Fialko, Y.  2007.  Fracture and Frictional Mechanics - Theory. Treatise on geophysics. 4( Schubert G, Ed.)., Amsterdam ; Boston: Elsevier
Fialko, Y, Simons M, Agnew D.  2001.  The complete (3-D) surface displacement field in the epicentral area of the 1999 M(w)7.1 Hector Mine earthquake, California, from space geodetic observations. Geophysical Research Letters. 28:3063-3066.   10.1029/2001gl013174   AbstractWebsite

We use Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) data to derive continuous maps for three orthogonal components of the co-seismic surface displacement field due to the 1999 M-w 7.1 Hector Mine earthquake in southern California. Vertical and horizontal displacements are both predominantly antisymmetric with respect to the fault plane, consistent with predictions of linear elastic models of deformation for a strike-slip fault. Some deviations from symmetry apparent in the surface displacement data may result from complexity in the fault geometry.

Fialko, Y, Rivera L, Kanamori H.  2005.  Estimate of differential stress in the upper crust from variations in topography and strike along the San Andreas fault. Geophysical Journal International. 160:527-532.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2004.02511.x   AbstractWebsite

The major bends of the San Andreas fault in California are associated with significant variations in the along-fault topography. The topography-induced perturbations in the intermediate principal stress may result in the rotation of the fault with respect to the maximum compression axis provided that the fault is non-vertical, and the slip is horizontal. The progressive fault rotation may produce additional topography via thrust faulting in the adjacent crust, resulting in a positive feedback. The observed rotation of the fault plane due to the along-fault variations in topography is used to infer the magnitude of the in situ differential stress. Our results suggest that the average differential stress in the upper crust around the San Andreas fault is of the order of 50 MPa, implying that the effective fault strength is about a factor of two lower than predictions based on Byerlee's law and the assumption of hydrostatic pore pressure.

Fialko, Y.  2001.  On origin of near-axis volcanism and faulting at fast spreading mid-ocean ridges. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 190:31-39.   10.1016/s0012-821x(01)00376-4   AbstractWebsite

At fast and superfast spreading mid-ocean ridges, such as the East Pacific Rise, a plate boundary is defined by a narrow (tens to hundreds of meters wide) neovolcanic zone within which the bulk of the upper oceanic crust is created. However, detailed near-bottom observations indicate that the volcanic construction may occasionally persist several kilometers off of the ridge axis. It has been proposed that off-axis volcanism manifests tapping of a wide melting region that supplies magma to the ridge axis, or spatial migration of magmatic sources in the crust and upper mantle. We demonstrate that off-axis eruptions may be a natural consequence of variations in magma supply rate even if the ridge axis is stationary in space, and the magma delivery is perfectly focussed at the ridge axis. Theoretical modeling and field observations indicate that off-axis volcanisin may result from magma emplacement in sills that propagate toward the surface after their characteristic horizontal size exceeds their emplacement depth. Volcanic construction and faulting due to sill intrusions may contribute to the formation of abyssal hills, arguably the most abundant relief form on Earth. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Fialko, Y.  2004.  Probing the mechanical properties of seismically active crust with space geodesy: Study of the coseismic deformation due to the 1992 M(w)7.3 Landers (southern California) earthquake. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 109   10.1029/2003jb002756   AbstractWebsite

[1] The coseismic deformation due to the 1992 M(w)7.3 Landers earthquake, southern California, is investigated using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Global Positioning System (GPS) measurements. The ERS-1 satellite data from the ascending and descending orbits are used to generate contiguous maps of three orthogonal components ( east, north, up) of the coseismic surface displacement field. The coseismic displacement field exhibits symmetries with respect to the rupture plane that are suggestive of a linear relationship between stress and strain in the crust. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) data show small-scale deformation on nearby faults of the Eastern California Shear Zone. Some of these faults ( in particular, the Calico, Rodman, and Pinto Mountain faults) were also subsequently strained by the 1999 M(w)7.1 Hector Mine earthquake. I test the hypothesis that the anomalous fault strain represents essentially an elastic response of kilometer-scale compliant fault zones to stressing by nearby earthquakes [Fialko et al., 2002]. The coseismic stress perturbations due to the Landers earthquake are computed using a slip model derived from inversions of the InSAR and GPS data. Calculations are performed for both homogeneous and transversely isotropic half-space models. The compliant zone model that best explains the deformation on the Calico and Pinto Mountain faults due to the Hector Mine earthquake successfully predicts the coseismic displacements on these faults induced by the Landers earthquake. Deformation on the Calico and Pinto Mountain faults implies about a factor of 2 reduction in the effective shear modulus within the similar to 2 km wide fault zones. The depth extent of the low-rigidity zones is poorly constrained but is likely in excess of a few kilometers. The same type of structure is able to explain high gradients in the radar line of sight displacements observed on other faults adjacent to the Landers rupture. In particular, the Lenwood fault north of the Soggy Lake has likely experienced a few centimeters of left-lateral motion across < 1-km-wide compliant fault zone having the rigidity reduction of more than a factor of 2. The inferred compliant fault zones are interpreted to be a result of extensive damage due to past earthquakes.

Fialko, YA, Rubin AM.  1999.  Thermal and mechanical aspects of magma emplacement in giant dike swarms. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 104:23033-23049.   10.1029/1999jb900213   AbstractWebsite

We consider the thermal history and dynamics of magma emplacement in giant feeder dikes associated with continental flood basalts. For driving pressure gradients inferred for giant dike swarms, thicknesses of <10 m would enable dikes to transport magma laterally over the distances observed in the field (up to thousands of kilometers) without suffering thermal lock-up. Using time-dependent numerical solutions for the thermal evolution of a dike channel under laminar and turbulent flow conditions in the presence of phase transitions, we investigate the possibility that the observed dike thicknesses (of the order of 100 m) result from thermal erosion of the country rocks during dike emplacement. This implies that the observed range of dike widths in giant dike swarms may reflect variations in the source volume and not the excess magma pressure. It is found that the total volume of intruded magma required to produce an order of magnitude increase in dike width via wall rock melting broadly agrees with the estimated volumes of individual flows in continental flood basalts. The presence of chilled margins and apparently low crustal contamination characteristics of some giant dikes may be consistent with turbulent magma flow and extensive melt back during dike emplacement. In this case, measurements of the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility most likely indicate magma flow directions during the final stages of dike intrusion. Shear stresses generated at the dike wall when the dike starts to freeze strongly decrease with increasing dike width, which implies that thicker dikes may have less tendency to produce consistent fabric alignment. Our results suggest that if the dike was propagating downslope off a plume-related topographic swell, the mechanism responsible for flow termination could possibly have been related to underpressurization and collapse (implosion) of the shallow magma plumbing system feeding the intrusion. Radial dikes that erupted at the periphery of the topographic uplift might have increased (rather than decreased) extensional stresses in the crust within the topographic uplift upon their solidification.