Thermal-elastic stresses and the criticality of the continental crust

Schrank, C.E., Fusseis, F., Karrech, A., & Regenauer-Lieb, K. (2012) Thermal-elastic stresses and the criticality of the continental crust. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 13(9), pp. 1-21.

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Heating or cooling can lead to high stresses in rocks due to the different thermal-elastic properties of minerals. In the upper 4 km of the crust, such internal stresses might cause fracturing. Yet it is unclear if thermal elasticity contributes significantly to critical stresses and failure deeper in Earth's continental crust, where ductile creep causes stress relaxation. We combined a heating experiment conducted in a Synchrotron microtomograph (Advanced Photon Source, USA) with numerical simulations to calculate the grain-scale stress field in granite generated by slow burial. We find that deviatoric stresses >100 MPa can be stored during burial, with relaxation times from 100's to 1000's ka, even in the ductile crust. Hence, grain-scale thermal-elastic stresses may serve as nuclei for instabilities, thus rendering the continental crust close to criticality.

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10 citations in Scopus
9 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 59816
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Burial, Continental Crust, Criticality, Heating, Internal Stresses, Thermal Elasticity
DOI: 10.1029/2012GC004085
ISSN: 1525-2027
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Deposited On: 09 May 2013 23:15
Last Modified: 09 May 2013 23:15

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